by Dave Kroeze, Director of Outreach @MBCLouduon
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing.” We do not live in a culture that celebrates anxiety, but we definitely celebrate behavior that inevitably leads to additional anxiety and stress. This passage is not talking about anxiety related to consequences of our behavior, but any anxiety related to circumstances in our life. Paul wrote this letter from behind bars, so his words carry a lot of weight when understanding that he was in prison, uncertain of release. Now that situation would definitely carry a lot of anxiety, yet he states to be anxious for nothing. If you are a parent, no doubt you have dealt with times of anxiety over the decisions your children make, or their spiritual health, or even your success as a father. If you are married, maybe you feel anxiety towards loving your wife as Christ loves the Church. I know I do. That’s a tough calling. Or even still, what if you are single? Your anxiety could stem from your job performance or any of the other concerns listed above.
Paul gives us a great formula for how to handle our struggles in life. Instead of being anxious, pray about it. Give it to the Lord. People often say that phrase without thinking through what it means, but this is the implication of it. You may have heard Junior Asparagus from Veggie Tales sing the song “God Is Bigger than the Boogie Man,” and that is exactly what Paul is proclaiming in this verse. Whatever your troubles, whatever your stresses, whatever your anxieties, give them back to the Lord.
Now, obviously action steps are important, so encouraging you to pray in times of struggle is a great place to start, but, if you are anything like me, you want some tangible evidence that it is worth your time. Praise the Lord that you are memorizing two verses this week, because the promise comes in the second verse. When we are anxious, we present our requests before the Lord, and the promise is not to answer all of our prayers exactly how we asked them. It is not to make everything easier. It IS to give us peace in the midst of the storms. It is not to remove all of our trials from us. Paul asks three times for his thorn to be removed, but God responds to him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Is God’s grace sufficient for you? He promises us in Philippians 4:7 that His peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2-3 says to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” I see so many similarities between this section of Scripture and the Philippians passage. When you face trials, and you will, give your anxiety, fears, and concerns back to the Lord. Pray about them. Give up control of those circumstances that you cannot possibly control anyways. Why? God will take your prayers, He will honor them, and He will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding about the trials and tribulations you are walking through.
As you meditate on this verse, think back to last week. Are you intimately connected to Christ? Now, how can you possibly expect to survive through the wind, famines, and storms of this life while being disconnected from the vine? Spend time in prayer, give your anxiety back to the Lord, and allow him to surround you with a canopy of grace that can only come from Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for promising to give us peace in the midst of the storms of life. Help us to depend on you even when life is at its most difficult. When I begin to doubt, bring this verse to the forefront of my memory as I seek to give the cares and concerns of my life back to you and trust that You are in control. I believe that you give and take away, so help me to praise you when you give, and praise you when you take away. Above all, thank you for guarding our hearts even when we cannot understand. We praise your sovereignty and humbly appeal to you for all of our needs and sources of anxiety. It’s in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.