Yesterday, I received so many different messages from my time spent in God’s Word, that I thought I already knew what I was going to write about today. Thankfully, I first went to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to show me what He wanted me to see today. As I look pretty much anywhere, I can find reasons to be anxious. And in anxiety, I can certainly be far from gentle. That’s a very nice way to say that I can be quite a stinker, which God certainly has not called me to be. And yet, even when I am a “stinker”, God still loves me. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
It’s easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) Paul, who was writing from prison, knew that our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. If you haven’t been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective.
Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) Imagine never being “anxious about anything”. Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Whenever we begin to worry, Paul advises that we should stop and pray. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I experience an unnerving feeling of anxiety. I’m not even clear about what is causing it. Thankfully, we don’t always have to put into words the cares we are casting on our Lord. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
God’s peace is different from the world’s peace. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin. Let God’s peace guard your heart against anxiety. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)
God is able and willing to bless us according to His timing if we humbly obey and trust in Him, regardless of our present circumstances. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-11)