Summary: The peace that comes from God is perfect.
The Promise of Peace
Rev. Brian Bill
Our family had the good fortune of vacationing up in Wisconsin with Beth’s family and then yesterday we drove up to the Promised Land again to celebrate my parent’s belated 50th Wedding Anniversary. All that time in Packer Country certainly helped us find some peace. In fact, Beth’s dad has a sign in Swedish by his driveway that reads: “Smart Fri,” which literally means, “Pain Free.”
In order to be fully engaged with Beth and the girls I decided to totally unplug electronically. I turned off my phone when we left and didn’t turn it back on for eight days. Our daughter Becca didn’t think I could last without texts, Facebook, email or phone calls. She told me that she might think about turning her phone off for a day if I lasted all week. When I kept my promised purge I asked her if she was ready to turn her phone off. She smiled and said, “Daddy, I told you I’d think about it.”
Do we have to go on a phone fast or travel to the land of promise in order to find peace? Do we have to escape in order to get rid of anxiety? I wonder if Job’s words found in Job 3:25-26 reflect what some of you might be feeling: “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
Is it possible to be at peace in the midst of turmoil and stress? In order to get us prepared for the promise of peace, let’s take an inventory to find out how peaceful we really are. Here are four possible responses: Never, Seldom, Frequently, or Constantly.
1. How often do you worry?
2. How often are you at peace with others?
3. How often do you remain peaceful in times of trouble?
How’d you do? Not so good? Me either. I did rediscover last week that garlic and dill cheese curds help a lot. Speaking of cheese curds, we found a new flavor this year – sun dried tomato and basil! No, I’m not sharing. Besides, they’re all gone.
Is it possible to have peace when we have problems? Can we experience shalom in times of sorrow, sickness and sadness? We often say, “If only I could get some peace and quiet,” like it’s some sort of destination or something “out there,” when true peace is what happens “in here” (point to heart). Friends, peace is the not the absence of external conflict. It’s the presence of the Prince of Peace internally. Peace can be experienced in the midst of the mess you are in and can help you endure difficult people and disturbing problems.
Our promise for today is found in Isaiah 26:3. Lots of people throughout the centuries have locked into this verse because the peace that comes from God is perfect: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
We’re learning that it’s important to understand the promises of God within the passages in which they’re found. In other words, before we claim a text we must first consider the context. Isaiah is a prophet of God charged with ministering to the people of God during a very dark time in their history. As a young man he witnessed the rise of his country into an economic and military world power. But along with this prosperity there was also corruption, shallow spirituality and ritualistic religion. A new power had now come on the scene in Assyria and the splendor of Isaiah’s nation was starting to fade. While politicians argued, the nation was downgraded and the people grew anxious. Kind of sounds like America today, doesn’t it?
Isaiah was a wordsmith, utilizing a versatility of expression and vocabulary. His writing has a majestic grandeur to it as he exalts the grace of God in salvation. In chapters 24-27, we see a mixture of judgment and joy, of suffering and singing. Isaiah 26:1 tells us that this section is actually a song: “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah…” and centers on the city of Jerusalem: “…We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.” Isaiah is looking forward to the day when a salvation song will be sung because he knows that problems cannot thwart God’s purposes.
Aren’t you glad that no matter what problems you face, there is never any panic in heaven? As we begin to unpack this promise of peace, let’s look at how various versions and paraphrases render Isaiah 26:3.
New Living Translation: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”