“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 everything, 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
Nothing can zap joy and peace like worry.
I could become an Olympic champion if there were an event for worry! So I know what I’m talking about.
Worry comes in all shapes and sizes.
Take, for instance, the worry that creeps in when all is well…
Like a beautiful sunny day. Everyone at home is in a good mood and healthy. The bed is made, the house is clean, all the chores are done. Time with family. Time to breathe. Enjoying the sweet life.
And then I start to sense it–that little nagging thought. The one that says, “This is too good to last. Things are going well now, but what’s around the corner?” Suddenly my mind peers ahead into the dark unknown future and wonders what disturbing things might be coming our way. ZAP! The joy is gone.
Then there is the worry that consumes at the other end of the spectrum, when life is just plain hard…
Like last year when my husband spent seven weeks in the hospital. I can’t tell you how many worried thoughts filled my mind (it would take more time than you want to spend reading this post). But let’s just say that it ranged from “Will he live?” to “Will he ever again look at me with eyes of recognition and love?” to “Will he be able to work?” Thoughts of “What if…” and “What will we do?” penetrated my mind with all kinds of scary scenarios for what might lie ahead. ZAP! Where’s the peace?
Worry and anxiety…in pleasant times and in difficult times.
We’ve all been there, right?
Worry zaps the joy and peace right out of life and robs us of the sweet blessings God desires for us to embrace.
But fear not, my friends! The Lord God, the Great Physician, has handed us a prescription for a heart and mind filled with worry.
It is found in Philippians 4:4-7 – “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 everything, 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.”
When anxious thoughts steal our joy and peace, here are the Doctor’s orders:
1. Rejoice in the Lord—always.
Seems like an easy thing, right? But we can quickly forget how amazing God is when we allow troubling thoughts to settle in our minds. We can push them out by saturating our minds instead with the magnificence of the Lord Jesus. Rejoice in Him—who He is and what He has done!
2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
I have to admit, this part had me a little stumped. I mean, here between rejoicing always and taking all our worries to God, it instructs us to show gentleness?
So, I took some time for a little research. This verse, taken as a whole, seems to point to our purpose of bringing glory to the Lord—to be His witness in this world. Time is passing by and the Lord’s return is coming soon. Our gentleness—our graciousness—is a testimony to God’s work in our lives. When filled with worry, our focus turns inward. We can quickly become irritable, demanding, and unpleasant to be around. Not exactly the light of the world we are called to be.
We must remember Whose we are and Who we represent, letting the fruit of the Spirit be evident to everyone around us.
3. Present your requests to God by prayer and petition.
Did you ever wonder about the difference in prayer and petition? I wondered if they were the same. But if so, why would they both be listed? Again…research.
It appears there is a difference. The word in the original language translated prayer in this verse indicates a desire. But the word for petition indicates something much more heart-felt—a need, a desperate plea.
God wants us to bring ALL of our requests to Him–desires and needs. “…in EVERYTHING…present your requests to God.”
4. Give thanks.
This command to give thanks is seen everywhere in Scripture. We can only receive joy when we recognize the many blessings God has given us. Every request to God should be surrounded with thanksgiving.
When we faithfully follow God’s prescription by rejoicing in the Lord, living in the Spirit, and praying with grateful hearts, what can we expect?
ZAP! Worry will be gone! And it will be replaced with joy and peace.
That sweet peace of God, which transcends all understanding. The Lord says this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and keep us right where we are supposed to be…rejoicing in Him and living for His glory.
Peace and joy…instead of worry and anxiety.
I think I’ll strive to faithfully follow the Great Physician’s orders. I would much rather receive joy and peace than to win a gold medal for being the champion of worry.
Dearest Lord, thank you for showing us how to zap worry and bring back joy and peace. Help us to faithfully turn over every anxious thought and live according to Your instruction, that we might live our lives to glorify You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
All Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.