There is nothing else in the world like the peace that only can be received from God. I have never known so much peace as I experience in the midst of my deepest suffering. God has asked me to trust in Him through some very unexpected and unwanted circumstances. Those who know me understand that my struggles might lead me to literally curl up in the fetal position in the back of my closet. I may sound dramatic, but it is what my flesh would want to do in response to my circumstances. God asks me to take a spiritual path and ignore the desires of my flesh. When I trust in Him, He offers me a peace that I wish I could bottle and share with others. The peace of God is offered to everyone, but it cannot be transferred. It is a personal peace given only by a personal God.
The peace of God is the thing that cannot be taken away, which Mary had and that Jesus longed for Martha to embrace. In Luke 10: 41-42, Jesus answered, Martha:
You are worried and upset about many things but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
What could not be taken away from Mary was the PEACE of connecting with the presence of God. I learned to receive this peace daily after the sudden death of my late husband several years ago. I struggled to reach the place of peace, allowing myself to fall down into many pits of despair along the way; but eventually I would call out to God, and He would pull me to the landing of peace in spite of the harsh realities I was left to walk through. With the peace He gave me He also enabled me to work in His kingdom, teach, write, disciple and show others how to walk through extreme grief and heartache. I have spent my life trying to help others feel God’s love and healing. I can only tell them about the peace I have found; I cannot give it to them. Each one must ask God for this peace themselves. Each one must lay down the desires of the flesh and accept the peace of the Spirit.
When I recognize that peace in another’s life, I know that the Spirit of God is at work. I’m not surprised that I have a peace that passes understanding described by Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I am surprised when I recognize the same peace I have come to know in someone who has not necessarily been asking for it and struggling to receive it as long as I have. In other words, I think I took the long, hard road to peace, and another received it instantly and perhaps more powerfully than I did. It’s this comparison that causes me to celebrate God’s peace in a deeper way. It is God’s peace. He will give it to whomever, in whatever manner is best in their life. I received this peace on the spiritual path in which I allowed God to give peace. Others take a direct path, especially after falling away from Him more dramatically. Whenever any one of us has peace in the midst of harsh realities, we can know for certain that our Holy God is at work. Peace comes only from God. It is the devil’s worst enemy. When we grasp God’s peace, we are able to stand and claim our ground.
As I watch Jesus walk through Holy Week, I recognize the peace that God has shared with me in Him. I see His acceptance of the utterly unacceptable. I feel the peace that allows Him to look into Judas’ eyes and love him in spite of the betrayal He knows is coming. Peace is a holy acceptance that living in a sinful world means that God has asked us to face what is totally wrong with an assurance that He will make it right in time. For now, He gives us peace to sustain us. It only comes from God. It passes our understanding to call us to believe He is working out the pain for our good.