We finished Colossians yesterday, and we’ll start reading through 1 John on Monday. So today, I decided to write another favourite verse devotional.
Philippians 4:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
These verses became one of my favourites when I was a teenager. Those were the years that I was sorting out what I believed, and what I thought was the right thing to do as I spent less time with my family and more time at school, with school friends, and at my part-time job. My Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Grant, gave each of us in her class a fancy card with that verse on it, and told us to tuck it in our mirrors at home so that we could be aware of God’s suggestions for our standards.
Now that I’m older, I still like that verse a lot. Our culture makes it easy to get dragged down and focused on the strangest stuff. Just look at the ads on TV. But I think even more than that, I find this verse helps me when I tend to get bogged down in anxiety and depressing thoughts. If I “fix my thoughts” on positive and uplifting things, life has so much more hope.
I think anxiety strikes us when we are not sure what the future might hold, and we’re not sure if we can cope with whatever it is. Living with my granddaughter who is in her second year at university reinforces that idea. For two of her courses, she is quite sure she will do well. She finds the classes easy, and so far, has done well on all assignments and tests. Another two courses have her really nervous. She finds the content of those courses challenging, and some of the tests she has written this term didn’t turn out as well as she had hoped. She’s not as sure about what will be on future tests since the profs of those courses have thrown the classes a curve or two on past tests. So when the future seems positive and we’re sure we have it under control, we are not anxious. But when the future is uncertain, and we’re not sure we can cope as well as we’d like, then anxiety strikes.
The Philippian church was anxious. They were experiencing a lot of persecution from the Jewish leaders and from the Roman occupying forces. Their future was definitely not certain. So Paul has some advice for them. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I guess you could say – Pray, pray, pray. He also tells them to pray with thanksgiving. That’s interesting. That thanksgiving reminds us that God is in control and God will be there for us no matter the outcome.
The verse I really like is “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I see two things that are guarded by God – my mind and my emotions. Both are under attack when I’m anxious. The thoughts that go through my head about what might possibly happen are extremely unsettling. I find it hard to concentrate on the simplest of chores around the house. My emotions are all over the place. I feel like I could break down crying way too easily. I get angry about the stupidest things because my emotions are not under control. Prayer changes all that.
And then I focus on the positive things of the day – the things that are “true, honorable, right, lovely, etc.” I am so thankful for the peace that God gives. It really is incomprehensible. If I didn’t have God’s divine intervention in my life, I would be falling apart – totally failing at coping. Although I wouldn’t say I deserve an A+ in coping skills, I am aware of God’s presence and I know He will sustain me not matter what the outcome. For that I am so thankful! It is something that every single one of us can be thankful for!