And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7)
Now that COVID-19 is declared a pandemic, spreading infection and death to almost every nation on earth, crashing stock markets along the way, and halting global travel, the Atlantic Magazine considers it a “Once-in-a-Century-Event.” This pandemic is far worse than the 2003 SARS outbreak, where the impact was mainly felt in the financial sector. This pandemic is hitting every sector of society, where no sphere of life is left unaffected. We are living in unparalleled times, stirring in us fear and panic.
Before he went to the cross, Jesus tried to comfort his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:7). The peace Jesus speaks of is a subjective, experiential peace. It is tranquillity of the soul, a settled, positive peace that permeates all our circumstances in life.
This is the peace that Paul speaks about in Phil. 4:7. The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world’s peace or the lack thereof, so it does not always make sense to the natural mind. Paul says it is a peace that surpasses comprehension. It does not seem possible that the Christian can experience this kind of peace in the midst of problems and trouble. But this is divine, supernatural peace, which only God can provide. Furthermore, Paul says Christians can experience this peace, if we ask God with a grateful heart in spite of our circumstances (v. 6).
The word for “guard” is not the word that means to “watch.” Rather, it is a word used in a military sense, meaning “to stand at a post and guard against the aggression of an enemy.” That means Christians can truly experience the safety as if we live in a fortress, where the peace of God stands guard and keeps worry from corroding our hearts and terrible thoughts from pounding our minds.
Let us pray for ourselves that we will continue to live by faith, not by sight. Above all, let us seize the pandemic as a God-ordained opportunity for Christians to display the peace of God in service to our friends, family members, and neighbours.