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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: The Peace of God

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  May 5, 2016 --

“The Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” writes Paul in Philippians 4:7. What is the “Peace of God”? Does it differ from ordinary peace? If so, how does it differ? And what is meant by saying it will “guard your hearts”? The first thing to understand is that we are not talking about peace in the ordinary sense, not “peace and quiet”, or peace as in absence of war, or peace as in peaceful surroundings. In fact Jesus specifically says “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.” So there it is; what is meant is not worldly peace, but peace of mind and peace of heart.

The Peace of God provides a shield so that we may be surrounded by a sea of troubles, even in great pain and adversity, and still possess an internal calmness and assurance of God’s love towards us which enables us to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. As with all God’s gifts, this one is offered to us freely, with no strings attached. The difficulty comes with our inability to accept this gift, our reluctance to believe that it is there for the taking. Our faith is too weak. One is reminded of Jesus inviting Peter to walk to him across the water. Peter started out from the boat towards Jesus initially with great confidence, but as he continued to walk and neared Jesus he saw the wind and became afraid, and began to sink.

So then, what we need to do is practice not being afraid when trouble surrounds us, to remind ourselves that God is always with us, His love there for us, His peace ready to be implanted in our hearts. This peace will not cause our troubles and tormenters to vanish, but rather will allow us to face them calmly, without fear, without trepidation. Thus it was with the early Christian martyrs, facing troubles and persecutions far greater than most of us will ever be called to endure. It must be admitted that in those early days just being a Christian increased one’s chances of facing troubles and persecutions, and thus it was important that the “Peace of God” was available to aid them. There is a poem about this by William Alexander Percy which made its way into the Episcopal Hymnal. The last verse is:

The peace of God, it is no peace,

but strife closed in the sod,

Yet let us pray for but one thing—

the marvelous peace of God.


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