THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
THOUGHTS FROM PHILIP
Paul was a man who understood suffering. In his lifetime, he was thrown in prison multiple times, constantly faced death threats, and many times had to go without the comforts most people take for granted. When he writes these words in Philippians 4, you would never have guessed they would be coming from a man who had to constantly suffer so much. It is easy to say “Rejoice Always” while we sit in the comfort of our own homes, eating hot meals, with a happy, healthy family. But when disaster strikes, these words take on a whole new meaning.
We go through stuff too. We lose loved ones. We struggle to keep our marriages together. We get depressed. We understand what it means to go through hurt and pain. So why then do these words echo in our ears any time we face struggles, yet sometimes we feel like they just aren’t working? What if we are looking at the idea of peace in the wrong way. What if we have it backwards?
These words carry weight to them. Paul instructs us to disregard our situations and focus on the fact that Jesus is near to us. He commands us to Rejoice; to praise God at all times! Jesus is in our battles with us and has already suffered so much for us. When we can begin to understand this truth and praise God through our suffering, we can begin to push our anxiety away.
I think the structure of these verses is very intentional. Notice how the scripture tells us to get rid of our anxieties before it tells us that peace is coming? I would think that it would be the other way around. If I have worries, I want them immediately replaced with peace! We typically think that our anxieties will be there until peace comes. But what if we have it backwards. What if peace won’t come until our anxiety is gone? I think so often we hold on to our worries until we feel like they are taken care of. God is calling us to release our worries and trust Him, and in that release, He will bring comfort. Once we become aware of the nearness of Christ, He helps us to cast off our anxiety. When we trust that God is in control is when the peace comes. Peace follows trust, not the other way around.
Maybe your current situation is rough. Maybe you have been living in fear or anxiety. Maybe you have been waiting for things to shift. Maybe you have even been praying for peace. What if God is waiting for you to simply trust that He is near. What if all you had to do was let go of your anxiety then God would bring His peace to you? Not only will peace come, but as the scripture tells us, when we remain near to Christ, His peace will literally guard you from future anxieties!