In Pursuit of God’s Perfect Peace
by Lance E. Danko
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders now affect a staggering forty million adults in the United States, which equates to a little more than 18 percent of our population.1 In older adults, anxiety disorders are most commonly associated with traumatic events such as a fall or an acute illness. It is a major factor that impacts our health as those with anxiety disorders visit the doctors as much as three to five times more than the general population. People struggling with anxiety may experience a variety of physical symptoms, including nervousness, sleeplessness, headaches, difficulty breathing or excessive sweating.
Many of us are dealing with one or more anxiety-producing stressors such a difficult diagnosis, caring for a loved one, financial concerns, family conflict, traumatic events or addiction. However, the prophet Isaiah tells us “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV). This promise was given during one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history, and it is still relevant in today’s troublesome and uncertain times. So, just how does a Christian experience this ‘perfect peace’ amid all the suffering, chaos and cares of today’s world? Isaiah gives us two conditions that must be satisfied – one concerns the head and the other involves the heart.
First, pertaining to the head, our minds must be continually stayed or centered on Him. With our heads we must believe that God is both the author and giver of perfect peace. As Billy Graham once said, “Many of you are filled with a thousand anxieties. Bring them to Jesus Christ by faith…I am learning in my own life, day by day, to keep my mind centered on Christ; the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world pass, and nothing but ‘perfect peace’ is left in the human heart.” There are several ways to keep our minds stayed or centered on God. One is through regular Bible reading. Psalm 119:165 tells us that “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” (NKJV). By spending time in God’s word and through scripture memorization our minds will eventually become so saturated and filled with His truth that we learn to view our lives more from His perspective, which is one of peace and love.
Another way to keep our minds focused on God is through prayer and praise. The apostle Paul tells us that we are to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving to let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 6 – 7, NKJV). God never promised that our journey would be easy or without difficulty, rather it is how we respond to our circumstances and situations with prayer and praise that makes the greatest difference. Through prayer we enter God’s presence and experience a deeper fellowship with Him and praise allows us to express our adoration and thanks to God.
Finally, we center our minds on Him through our obedience. Leviticus 26:3 – 6 describes a condition in which God guarantees He will keep our hearts in perfect peace if we will walk in His statutes and keep His commandments. In other words, if we will do our part by obeying and doing what He asks of us, then God will surely do His by fulfilling this promise. Simply knowing that we are accomplishing His will for our lives and following His direction often serves as a source of great peace no matter what challenges we may be facing.
Now, let’s look at the second part of Isaiah’s requirement for perfect peace which involves matters of the heart or trusting in God. As mentioned earlier, it is with our heads that we believe, but it is with our hearts we trust. For us to possess perfect peace we must trust God with all our hearts and have faith that He will give us what He has promised. Proverbs 3:5 tell us we are to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (NKJV)
Such peace was experienced by hymnwriter Frances Havergal. While vacationing south of Wales in 1876, Havergal caught a severe cold and experienced inflammation of her lungs. Realizing she might die, her friends were amazed at how peacefully she faced the gravity of her illness by responding, “If I am really going, it is too good to be true.” After her recovery she penned the words of the great hymn “Like a River Glorious” later that same year where she shared the source of her perfect peace: “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”
1 “Facts and Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, accessed February 10, 2019. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.
- Lance Danko, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, obtained his Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management in 1992 from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a Master of Science in Management from Southern Wesleyan University in 2009. He has held several leadership roles in health care with a special interest in oncology and end-of-life care. Lance also serves as an Associate Faculty member at the University of Phoenix and is active in the local community as a Media Relations Support Team Member for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, which is a worldwide Christian relief organization. He and his wife, Madea, have one son, Hunter. In his free time Lance enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with his family.