“Do not be anxious about ANYTHING…” (Philippians 4:6)
How, Paul? I don’t want to be anxious. What about this mess I am in? What about that health issues? What about this financial burden? What about that child who is wandering? What about my addicted friend who can’t seem to pull it together? What about the balls I am dropping, the deadlines, the school work, the laundry, the bills? How, Paul…how can I get to a place where I am not anxious about ANYTHING?
“…in EVERYTHING by PRAYER and SUPPLICATION with THANKSGIVING let your requests be known to God.”
Pray. Ask. Remember gratitude.
“And the PEACE OF GOD, which SURPASSES all understanding, will GUARD your HEARTS and your MINDS in Christ Jesus.” Oh, how we need our hurting hearts and over-thinking minds guarded by the prince of peace.
I teach a junior high New Testament class and we start each class with the lights off, worship music playing, and our journals opened writing three things we are thankful for, putting words on paper to our prayer requests, and documenting what God is speaking to us. Four to five short minutes to just be still and focus on God in the midst of our over-scheduled, over-stimulated world. Without intentionality, we don’t make time for these things. We generally know to ask and pray, but we often forget gratitude. And it is fascinating to see all of the studies linking the practice of gratitude to so many life benefits. I love when science discovers God’s truths planted into creation.
Yes, there is hardship and suffering and evil and trials in this life. But there is also A LOT of GOOD. Paul goes on to say, “Finally, brothers, whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is JUST, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is COMMENDABLE, if there is any EXCELLENCE, if there is anything WORTHY OF PRAISE, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
There is no peace in dwelling on the difficult or trying to solve it all on our own. But there is peace that comes with focusing on the good. Peace that comes from gratitude. Peace from asking God to help.
Paul closes the letter by saying that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he finds himself in. Whether brought low or abounding; whether in plenty or hunger; whether in abundance or need. He has learned the secret facing every circumstance: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). He says God is willing and able to “supply every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
Practice gratitude. Practice prayer. Practice dwelling on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. It might mean turning off the news, taking a break from that group that tends to drag you into negative talk and gossip, or blocking a few social media feeds, but your hearts and minds will be guarded making room for the overflowing peace of God.
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