I will never forget the night I learned what it means to have peace that “transcends all understanding.” My husband and I and our two young daughters were living in Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa. Liberia had been through a full year of civil war. A cease-fire was now in place, which many thought meant an end to the war. My husband had been working to bring food to the people of Monrovia, facing starvation because of the devastating war, while the girls and I lived in nearby Sierra Leone. We decided it was time for our family to return to Liberia.

We were back only a matter of weeks when we were awakened one night by the loud banging of a heavy object against the front door. I rushed to our girls' bedroom and, huddling with them on one of the beds, we began to pray. We heard the front door crash open and men shouting threats at my husband. I would learn later that they were rebel soldiers accusing him of being with the CIA. One of the men came into the girls’ room with a machete. “I have killed before,” he said. “I will kill again.”

I was completely helpless. There was nothing I could do in my own strength. But the Holy Spirit brought to mind promises of protection the girls and I had recently memorized. As I silently cried out to God for help, an unexplainable peace came over me. The presence of God was in that room. Our two young daughters didn’t cry out or even say a word.

I can’t say for sure how long the rebels were in our house. But finally, miraculously, they left us all alive and physically unharmed. We rejoiced in God’s protection.

Many years have passed since that terrifying night. Now I live in safety. And it’s easy to forget that God wants to give me peace also in the everyday trials, frustrations, and confusion of life.

His peace is not reserved for extraordinary, life-threatening events. His peace is available when money runs short, or a loved one is sick, or when someone I was once close to no longer wants to be close to me. 

When I truly do not know how to resolve a problem, God’s peace can fill my heart and mind.

In Philippians 4:6 Paul tells us, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done” (NLT). I’ve learned that instead of worrying and trying to figure out how we can fix things, we can give the situation to God. And as we do so,  thank Him for what He has already done, remembering that God has the power and the desire to help us. When we entrust Him with all the people and situations in our lives, He will give us what we most need: peace. In Verse 7, Paul also reassures us that “[we] will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard [our] hearts and minds as [we] live in Christ Jesus.”

Our situation may not change, but we are changed when we know our Father is taking care of things. It’s a peace that seems to make no sense. But when we give our problems to God and leave them in His hands, He gives us His peace. It's a beautiful exchange.

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