And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
The story goes that Edward Henry Bickersteth, an Anglican clergyman, was staying with his family in Harrogate. You will not be surprised to hear that that Sunday he could be found in the parish church, whilst the vicar preached on the text: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
The sermon stuck in the mind of Bickersteth. It had struck deep within him, and he was still dwelling upon it when he went to visit a relative that afternoon: one Archdeacon Hill. The poor Archdeacon was near to death, and full of despondency. Hoping to bring comfort to the dying man, and in a poetic moment, Bickersteth composed the hymn: “peace, perfect peace”.
It’s not much sung now, but the hymn quickly became a firm favourite. And for good reason! It speaks of the peace which can come from an abiding faith, from shifting your focus from your concerns to Christ. When you are feeling stirred up with the worry that bubbles within, you might find it a soothing antidote to concern as it focusses you mind on Jesus.
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect pace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus, call us to heaven's perfect peace