Devotion: A Peace that Surpasses Understanding

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming trying to choose what to read out of your whole big Bible. It might even be intimidating to decide how to spend your quiet time with God when there are no prompts or guidelines. That’s why we’ve asked former Collide staffer, Michelle Holladay, to write this devotion to help take the guesswork out of your study time and relax into prayer and reading.

Read – Philippians 4:4-13

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding – aren’t those beautiful words? I remember the first time I really heard those words. I was visiting a friend who had just had her second miscarriage in less than a year, 20 weeks into her pregnancy. As we visited, she told me how repeatedly reading Philippians 4:6-7 had encouraged her. I had gone there to comfort her but I ended up being comforted myself with this amazing concept that was so new to me. This concept that even when our lives are crazy, even when tragedy strikes and there is no worldly reason for it, we can be filled with peace, God’s peace.

If we keep reading in Philippians, Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul writes these words from jail. The man is in jail and he is talking to us about being content.

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer in the 1870’s who wrote one of the most famous hymns of all time. Horatio Spafford, like Paul, had discovered the secret to being content. He had invested heavily in real estate but the Chicago Fire of 1871 wiped out his investments. Shortly before that, his son had died. All this had put a huge strain on the family and Mr. Spafford decided they were in great need of a rest. So he planned a trip to take his wife and four daughters to Europe. Because of some last minute business, he was unable to leave as scheduled but rather than postpone the trip for the whole family, he sent his wife and daughters on ahead of him, planning to follow a few days later. Unfortunately, the ship they were traveling on was struck by another ship and sank. Only Mrs. Spafford survived. Upon hearing the news, Horatio Spafford got on a boat to travel to England to be with his grieving wife. As they passed the spot where his family’s ship had gone down, the captain stopped the boat to give Mr. Spafford a moment. It was there that he wrote the words to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” It is well with my soul. This man who had already lost a son, virtually all of his money and now four daughters wrote the words “It is well with my soul.”

When peace like a river attendeth my way
when sorrows like sea billows roll
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul

I think he had learned the secret to being content in all circumstances. So, what is this secret? If we keep reading, Paul tells us. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” That’s it, that’s the secret. Easy to say but hard to put into practice. Yet, the truth remains, when we rely on God and not on ourselves, submitting to His will, we can do anything, even be content. And we can allow God’s peace, that perfect peace which transcends all understanding, to permeate our lives.

Where are you struggling to find contentment? Will you start by trusting in the words, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength?”

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