Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Philippians 4:6-7

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. (v. 7)

In my work as a chaplain, I often pray for this peace, especially with families who are anticipating the imminent death of a loved one. It acknowledges our limited human understanding. When we brace for the major shifts that are brought on by death, we can’t possibly wrap our minds around the magnitude of what is unfolding as it is happening. But this passage in Philippians gently reminds us that peace is not something we achieve by cognitive ability. Rather, it is a gift bestowed on us by God who graciously knows that we cannot comprehend the full impact of death. That peace may feel elusive during the long journey of grief, but it can alight on us inexplicably at times as well. And the peace of God is indeed a protective factor, one which will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). It can guard us against the anxiety and even despair that can threaten to overtake us as we cope with the changes that dying and death inevitably bring.

Peace can also equip us as we embark on the search for understanding, asking questions which may or may not produce answers. Why did this happen? How am I supposed to go on? How much longer will I have to live out my days without this loved one? As we continue with prayer and supplication to make our requests known to God (v. 6), may we also be open to receiving the gift of peace. —Jessica Bratt Carle

Prayer: We long to understand, O God. Sustain us with your peace.