Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
If joy for a Christian is rooted in the fact that we are loved completely with an undeserved love, then peace is rooted in the fact that the One who loves us is completely, 100% trustworthy, and has done everything necessary to reconcile us to Himself.
When you think of the picture of peace, what comes to mind? My mind immediately goes back in time to the many hours I’ve spent holding my sleeping babies, especially during the months of nursing. Though they may have been screaming only minutes earlier, they nurse a little bit and begin to drift off to sleep. The frown disappears, the tears dry, and their face becomes a portrait of peaceful sleep, even in the midst of some not-so-peaceful circumstances. Even older children, who begin to have troubles deeper than when they will get their next meal, exude peace as they sleep. They are not worried about the credit card bills. They are not worried about the sound the van is making. They are not even worried about what the Supreme Court will decide on the next case involving religious liberty. They just sleep. They know that Mom and Dad are in the other room. They know there are problems and cares and struggles in the world, but they are confident that the grown-ups can take care of it. And if we have taught them well, they know that even if the problems are bigger than the grown-ups, they aren’t bigger than God. As they get older, they find worries of their own. They worry about making friends and sick grandparents and eventually pimples and grades and “creatures of the opposite sex.” But they tend to be much more quickly convinced to trust these issues to God than the grownups who care for them. Just like children are more prone to joy, they are also more prone to peace. They can teach us much, if we watch them closely.
But showing us a sweet picture of peace is not the only way children can help us cultivate this fruit. For many of us, opening up our hearts to love a child also opens up a capacity to worry like we never imagined possible. Even people who wouldn’t have labelled themselves worriers become worriers when they love a child.
We worry about their safety. We worry about their salvation. We worry about their chances for success. We worry about whether they will rebel or have their heart broken or make foolish choices. We worry about whether our mistakes will ruin them for life.
And while our sweet babies are sleeping peacefully in their beds, we lie awake many nights suffering from a complete lack of peace.
We who love these children and care so deeply about what happens to them, must recognize that we have no control over much of what awaits them in their future. We know without a doubt that we are incapable to protect them from all hurt, but instead of worrying about it, we must take our fears and questions straight to the throne of the One who holds every single day of our children’s lives in His hand. We learn quickly that much can go wrong in this world. This should make us realize anew every day how dependent we are on the Lord. This should drive us to our knees in prayer. And in prayer, we pour out our hearts and our desires for our sweet babies.
The main difference between worrying about our children and entrusting them to the Lord is that worrying focuses on the situation, what might go wrong or what did go wrong, while peaceful trust focuses on the God who loves our kids even more than we do.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Do you want to be kept in perfect peace, even when so much can threaten your children? Then your mind must be fixed on the One who is in control. He is completely good, and worthy of complete trust because He completes every single promise He makes. And when we truly understand this, our sleep will be just as peaceful as our children’s sleep.
Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
There is another aspect of peace, though. The fruit of peace does mean the peace that comes as a result of trust instead of worry, but it also means a much deeper peace. It means the peace that comes from no longer being at enmity with God.
Speaking to the Gentiles in Ephesians 2, Paul writes:
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:12-22)
The flavors of the peace-fruit in Christians are tasted when we trust instead of worry, when we bask in grace instead of hanging our heads in self-condemnation, when we forgive instead of harbor bitterness, when we seek restoration and reconciliation where there has been division. But all those lovely flavors spring from the deeper peace, the peace we now have with God through Jesus Christ.
We were once alienated from Him, but now we are part of His family. The war is over. Peace reigns in our hearts. We can rest. There is no greater peace.
I watch my children and I see a picture of this deeper peace. I love this passage in Ephesians because it says that now Jews and Gentiles are both members of the household of God. We aren’t just not at war with God any longer. No, He has actually taken us into His household, called us part of the family. We are secure. We are at peace.
Every night when our kids go to bed, they get a hug and kiss from their parents, and a blessing from their daddy. Even when we get exasperated with their behavior and they have consequences to face, we still love them. They can still expect a hug and kiss and blessing from us at bedtime. However, there are times when one child or another is mad at us and huffs off toward her bedroom to go to bed, and we have to call her back to let us give her a hug. Sometimes she is stiff in our arms, not willing to yield to our love. We are showing her that her position in the family, her peace with us is still intact in spite of her behavior, but she has trouble accepting that in the moment.To her, it feels like the peace has been broken. And suddenly, I see myself in her. Sometimes, I don’t like the circumstances of my life. I really don’t like the consequences of my sin. When I am experiencing these consequences, or when trials come that I don’t understand, sometimes it feels like my peace with God has been broken. When I know I’ve been disobedient, it can feel like God is no longer happy with me, like I’m at war with Him again until I can muster up enough obedience to earn a welcome back into His household. This feeling is not based on truth at all. Just like we would never kick our daughter out of the house when she disobeys, telling her she has to straighten up and fly right for awhile before she can come back home, once we are covered by the blood of Christ, we are forever at peace with God.
We will still sin, yes, but this peace cannot be broken. That’s why it passes all understanding. Honestly, it’s so difficult to understand that I find myself doubting this truth over and over and acting like I have to re-earn the standing with God that I never earned—never could have earned—in the first place. Then I look at my children when they sin and recognize that the fierce love I have for them does not diminish at all regardless of their behavior. I praise God for giving me this small shadow of example of His love for me, and the peace that He gives.