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 honourable, 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, especially in these pandemic times. 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 happens. You may be wondering if you will return to your job which is currently shut down. You may be stressing over your kids at school – are they safe from Covid there? You may have college aged children, and you hope they are distancing, wearing masks, etc – all the things that young people tend to ignore. You may be worrying about your elderly parents. You may be working in an essential job yourself, and hope your co-workers are doing the right things away from work.
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 for us.
And then we can focus on the positive things of the day – the things that are “true, honourable, 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 us no matter what the outcome. For that we can be so thankful! It is something that every single one of us can be thankful for!
Our song for today is Be Still by Hillsong Worship