Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When I was swimming in depression a few years ago, this verse was quoted at me quite a lot. By well-meaning people and books. But still, it did not truly permeate through my thick skull until about a week ago, taking me completely by surprise.
My fiance and I had a very large disagreement. I won’t say fight because that makes me think of screaming and throwing things. All I know is that he wanted me to do something that I did not want to, and after the phone call was disconnected, both of us were left feeling somewhat unloved and indignant.
When he hung up, I wanted to cry. My body was physically bracing for the heart ache, the sniffling, and hot tears. I even held my breath waiting for the onpour to come. But try as I might, I couldn’t cry! Nothing happened. In fact, it took a few minutes to realize that I wasn’t even really upset at all! I only assumed I should be, from prior experience.
It was so strange. My heart was quiet and calm, my mind, clear and able. I felt an overwhelming peace throughout my being that in all logic should not be there. It is difficult to explain, but it was a something Other than myself. I racked my brain trying to understand what this strange peace was, and then I remembered the verse, about God’s spirit guarding our hearts and minds.
Hearts and minds, I believe, are the essence of our earthly selves. Our thoughts, words, and actions all pass through our hearts and minds. And here I was in this difficult situation, with a clear mind and a peaceful heart. Only God could protect me from the impurities that would cloud my ability to make decisions. He hedged me in and set angels at the gate of my heart.
Now, the syntax of the text, and indeed, our worldly experience, would imply that we have to first give our anxieties to God, and then, only then, would he give the OK to bring peace which transcends all understanding to us. You give, and then you get.
Even after understanding that we can’t make our own salvation, I would still read this text in that way. “But not so”, says God. He gave me the peace first, and then I prayed after.
What a Good God we have, who anticipates our needs, and gives freely of his everlasting store of peace!
His extraordinary peace found me first, built a protecting wall around my heart and mind, And only then, when I realized he was already holding me under his wing, was I able to let all of my anxieties and cares out to Him.