Peace is a desired condition that is elusive for much of mankind. For centuries nations have longed for peace. But even though many peace treaties have been signed, they have failed to provide lasting worldwide peace because of man's sin. Without the Prince of Peace this world will never know real peace. But peace is also elusive for most individuals. Our neighborhoods are filled with crime. Families face internal conflicts. Separation and divorce are common. Individuals are burdened with problems and stress. And no matter what they try, real lasting peace remains elusive. But there is a source of lasting peace, a peace that passeth all understanding. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose kind is stayed on thee." In John 14:27 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." In Galatians 5:22 we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith." And in Phillipians 4:7, Paul reminds us, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." In 1875, while on vacation, Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr., heard a sermon on Isaiah 26:3 by a Canon Gibbon. The message was still on his mind that afternoon when he visited an aged and dying relative. As he entered the man's bedroom he found him in deep depression and troubled about his impending death. To soothe the man's emotional turmoil, Bickersteth opened his Bible to read from Isaiah 26:3, When his friend dropped off to sleep, Bickersteth took a sheet of paper and began to write a poem, posing the most disturbing obstacles to peace in life and then answered with the affirmation of faith that could not be denied. When his relative awoke, the author read the stanzas to him and comfort came to his troubled mind and heart. It might have been the last thing he heard before Jesus called him "to Heaven's perfect peace." Later his hymn would comfort his own heart as he stood over the grave of a preacher son. Have you experienced God's perfect peace in your life, especially in difficult times? I know I have, especially when family members died and also when I've had some serious surgeries ... a peace that passeth all understanding. We can also experience that perfect peace in our everyday lives, because of His presence. Hopefully this is your testimony. If that is not the case, turn your burdens over to the Lord today and let Him direct your paths. Meditate upon these words this week and apply them to your daily life.
(1) Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
(2) Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
(3) Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found.
(4) Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.
(5) Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
(6) Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
(6) It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven's perfect peace.
After one of Bickersteth's sisters pointed out that there is nothing specific in the hymn about physical suffering. "That is soon remedied," he replied. He took up an envelope and wrote the following verse (apparently never published) on the the back.
Peace, perfect peace, 'mid suffering's sharpest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.
You can listen to it here. Unfortunately, because the hymn is so old and seldom sung anymore, it has been difficult to find a good video of it being sung. But here are two that will allow you to hear it.