Nonsensical peace

God gives peace at moments that make no sense.

At times when by every right, everything emotionally should be cascading in, there can be peace. Not a denial, but an acknowledgment that yes, indeed, there is cancer, but God has a clue. Not a denial but an acknowledgment that yes, that casket holds the body of an infant daughter, but God is present.

Ah, but the peace doesn’t come because suddenly everything makes sense: “If I get cancer, then other people will understand that life is important and so my life, however short, will accomplish something.”

That kind of explaining would allow us to arrive at peace as a some rationalization of suffering. And I’m not sure that’s what Paul means when he writes,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I know. We want a recipe. We want to know that we will understand why things are the way they are. And in these two sentences there is no promise of understanding. There is no promise that things will work out fine.

Instead, Paul says that our hearts and our minds, those things that churn and process and spin and struggle in the middle of pain and chaos and ambiguity and inadequacy, will be guarded.

I suppose that part of the guarding comes from inviting someone else into the discussion. Knowing that someone who is capable of acting on our behalf is aware of the problem gives peace. But sometimes, nonsensical peace, incomprehensible peace, is an evidence of God, offered to rational minds in danger of spinning out of control. But, says Paul, you gotta ask.

8 thoughts on “Nonsensical peace

    1. Jon Swanson

      I think we do. Well, I think pondering is okay (meditating, doing what Mary did after the shepherds left), but the rationalizing? I, at least, go too far too often.

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  1. Frank Reed

    I have experienced this peace at times when others have thought I should be ‘losing it”. They ask how it happens and I say it is my faith but in my mind I really don’t get it either.

    it is then that I turn to Isaiah 55:8-9

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

    “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    I take a tremendous amount of comfort finally realizing that I don’t need to analyze and rationalize everything if I TRULY believe God is who He claims.

    Thanks, Jon. Your thoughts here on this earth always make me think and that helps.

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    1. Jon Swanson

      thank you, Frank, for being one of the first people I’ve heard after offering the “my faith got me through” to say, “what’s that mean?” Because, I suppose, if it is up to my faith, I’m in trouble. My capacity to believe enough to pull myself through is sorely lacking.

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  2. Joseph Ruiz

    this kind of peace is a strange thing and i am really grateful for it. I immediately started formulating a recipe response, just a habit i guess.

    I am grateful for God’s compassion, his mercy his equipping us He promises to be WITH us and that is enough.
    Grace and Peace jon may he give you strength and insight for each day

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  3. Stephanie Hartman

    Thank you so much for this post! I love the thought of peace so grand we cannot understand. My niece was murdered back in Jan. I have been shouting out to God, questioning, angry. But through it all my family has felt peace. Isn’t the love of God amazing?

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