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Besides forgiveness for all the stupid things we have done in our lives and the opportunity to enjoy eternal life free of disease, sadness and sin, Christians also have one gift they can enjoy right now, in this lifetime.
Christians can enjoy a peace that transcends all understanding, as is promised to us in Philippians 4:6:
“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.”
Have you ever spent time with someone who is consumed by worry? It’s exhausting. They see problems under every rock and imagine the worst possible outcome for every situation.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we can’t help but worry when we are facing matters of life and death, or we find ourselves so over our heads with serious problems. In those cases, it is very hard not to worry because our ability to see the entirely of the situation is limited only to what we can see directly in front of us.
Fortunately, God has a much higher view of our situation. While we are trudging along through a maze of detours and dead ends, God can see the entire path from start to finish.4
It is hard for me to describe what it is like to have a peace that transcends all understanding, but there have been a few moments in the past few years where I don’t have an explanation for the peace I felt in difficult situations.
Three years ago, as I was driving my motorhome through Texas while towing a Jeep, I heard a loud bang and a whole bunch of noise coming from the back. I pulled over immediately and discovered that my Jeep had been totaled.
Somehow, the transmission had slipped out of neutral into drive. The transfer case literally exploded, leaving a six-inch hole in the floor of my car. The explosion took out the transmission and drive shaft. It severed all the electrical cords running from the front of the vehicle to the back. It also severed the fuel line, which was leaking gas all over the highway.
Did I mention that I had made the final payment for the Jeep about six months earlier?
Yet, as I watched the tow truck pull away to take the Jeep to its final grave when it is undoubtedly resting in pieces, I had a very strange sense of peace. I just knew the situation would be okay, I just didn’t know how.
I was without a car for a few days, but when I arrived in Arizona, one of my relatives spotted a Honda CRV for sale in a driveway. I had looked at a similar vehicle at a dealership, but the firm sold it out from under me. But the private sale had less mileage, a lower price and had already been outfitted with towing equipment that matched the gear on my motorhome.
Then I knew why I had such peace along the highway.
The other incident happened a few weeks ago when I got out of bed one night to head to the bathroom. As my feet hit the floor, I knew something was wrong. My ability to control my right leg and right arm had been diminished.
I limped into the bathroom and evaluated myself for a stroke. There was no drooping in my face. I could speak clearly. I could sing as poorly as normal. I could even support my weigh on each leg. I assumed the problem must be a pinched nerve from helping someone move from one second-floor apartment to another. I am getting too old to shuttle dozens of boxes up and down flights of stairs.
But, it turned out that I really did have a stroke. Fortunately, it was minor, but I had a sense of peace. In fact, I went back to bed and sought treatment the following afternoon. It probably wasn’t the wisest decision because stroke is nothing to fool around with.
But, I really didn’t have any anxiety or agitation, except when people at the hospital woke me up every 90 minutes all day long.
If I lived, I knew it was a second chance to continue my God-given mission. If I died, I knew what awaited me on the other side of earthly life. I had peace that God was in control.
One of my all-time favorite movies is Do You Believe. It’s a story about eight strangers whose lives intersect at one divinely-created moment. A character played by Lee Majors is chastising his wife for her worry. He basically tells her to quit worrying. “When it’s my time to go, nothing is going to stop it. Until it’s my time to go, nothing is going to kill me.”
That’s pretty much how I feel.
The point was driven home earlier this week when I was watching videos commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. One of the videos was a montage of recorded messages people from the plane made to people back home.
Some people were in absolute panic sobbing about how they didn’t want to die, while others had a peace about them that truly transcended all understanding of the situation they faced.
Jesus addresses the issue of worry in Matthew 6:25-33:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
That’s sound advice. Whatever you’re facing at this moment, put your faith in God. Be confident that, regardless of what will happen, he has much better control of the situation that you ever could. He loves you and wants what is best for you.
And if that means you’ll lose your life either in a hijacking situation or a sudden stroke, rest assured that as a Christian, even if you lose (death), you win (eternal life).