My Musings – There’s a lot packed into these few verses. Today, I want to focus on the linkage between peace and suffering. How is it that some people can be subjected to so much suffering and yet still experience a “peace that surpasses all understanding?“
Like a good mystery novel, you need to unravel the clues. Follow the trail of evidence to wherever it leads.
Faith – We gain access to faith through God’s good graces. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and yet we only have it because He gives (a gift) it to us.
Justification – Only by exercising the faith that God has given us, through His grace (also given), can we be justified (by grace we are saved – justified – through faith). While exercising our faith is an action, it is not a work, because we know we are not saved by works. It (salvation) is a gift. Yet we do not have the gift just because it is offered. We have to accept it.
Peace – We can only have peace (not as the world gives peace) if we have been justified (reconciled to God). Genuine peace with God can only happen through reconciliation, which means eliminating the differences that separate us. These differences would otherwise be irreconcilable if Jesus had not died to satisfy (eliminate) what caused the differences in the first place. Caused by us (our action), eliminated by the cross (God’s action through HIs Son), offered to us as a free gift (God’s grace), and accepted through faith (our action).
Hope – Hope in the hereafter, where “we shall be like Him,” (“of the glory of God“). Hope is desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment. Just like peace is not as the world give peace, hope is likewise not as the world experiences hope. For the world, hope is a desire for something but no assurance. For the believer, there is belief and expectation (assurance) because of Him who made the promise. A “hope that does not disappoint us” because of Him who pours it out in love.
Suffering – Curiously linked to both peace and hope. For the world, peace and suffering rarely coexist. And hope seems almost futile. For the Christian, suffering need not destroy hope. If often magnifies it. And while suffering does not bring peace, the Christian can experience peace while suffering. That is what we can rejoice about. Not that we are experiencing it, but that it magnifies hope and need not rob us of our peace. Something that truly surpassing understanding.
And All The Rest – A Christian’s hope and peace are not merely intangible feelings. They have tangible results – perseverance, character and (more) hope.
Another Gift – The Holy Spirit, who lives (and so much more) within us.
And where does the trail of evidence lead? To God. The faith we have is from God. It is His grace that justifies us through the gift of HIs Son’s death and resurrection. It is Him who gives us peace and backs up our hope. The trail of evidence clearly points to Him.
My Advice – Don’t give up hope.