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Peace in the Pandemic

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The Rock of Gibraltar is the logo for Prudential Financial. That rock icon is meant to instill confidence that your investments are safe with them. The prophet Isaiah employs the same imagery to cultivate peace in those who trust God. It is a peace available today in the midst of pandemic.

You keep him in perfect peace
 whose mind is stayed on you,
 because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
 for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4) 

Panic vs. Peace

As I write this, the combined energy of government, science, and industry have been marshaled to protect the population from the deadly COVID-19 virus. The verses quoted from Isaiah speak to our current situation though they contain no promise of physical health. The words convey a far greater promise that only believers can appropriate — the promise of peace. Some might call it peace of mind; however, I believe it is more than that. 

To understand this peace, let us look at its opposite — anxiety. We also refer to it as worry. Anxiety is fearfulness in anticipation of the future. That future may be years away or minutes away. It can rob us of sleep and take away our appetite (or our resolve to control our appetite). It interferes with our work and strips our rest of its relaxation. In recent times, worry has left its mark in grocery stores with shelves emptied of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and basic food staples. 

Peace, on the other hand, is not a robber but a supplier. It is not merely the absence of worry; it is a positive outlook. Nor is it naiveté or stoicism. Peace is contentment in anticipation of the future. David testifies to its influence saying, “I lay down and slept; I woke again for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:5-6 see Fighting the Fear Monster). Beginning in the mind, it affects the body as well — even one ravished by disease and racked with pain. Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It “surpasses understanding” (Phil. 4:7). It may be enjoyed in the midst of this world’s tribulation (John 16:33). If “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” then it is peace that waters the seed. 

Perfect Peace

From where does this peace come? Isaiah says it is a provision from God for those who trust in him. The poetry expresses it so beautifully as perfect peace for one who has his mind stayed on God. Taken together with the parallel phrase “because he trusts in you,” we see that perfect peace comes to those with a determined, focused faith in the LORD. 

Faith must have an object. Those who think they can “just have faith” without focusing that faith on someone or something are confusing faith with wishful thinking. In addition, the peace of the “believer” is not based on the strength of their faith but on the strength of the object of their faith. Perfect peace comes to those who hope in God who is infinite in all his perfections. Isaiah describes him as “an everlasting rock” (v. 4). 

The word rock conveys the sense of security and immovability. Some climbers may claim to have conquered a mountain, but the mountain is unmoved. In fact, no climber would ever attempt the feat without confidence in the unyielding properties of rock. He grips it, he anchors his pitons into its crevices, he suspends his weight from it, he take care his foot does not slip away from it. He may have knowledge and experience, but it is all focused on the immovable mountain. 

Gospel Peace

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, we Christians need to focus our minds on our Everlasting Rock. Our future has been secured by our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). He has conquered the unconquerable — he defeated sin and death. Certainly no lesser evil can stop him from securing the good of his people. He offers not merely great peace, but his peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). It is vital to our gospel mission that others see that peace of Christ in us. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).