“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by 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 4:5b-7
This beautiful and comforting passage reminds us that the Lord is near. This is an important truth to keep before us in these troubled days. As the virus spreads and economic trouble worsens, it will be vital to come back to what Paul teaches here often.
Paul teaches us that since the Lord our God is near, we should not be anxious about anything. Why? Because God our Father is sovereign, good, and loves us more than we can understand. He knows our troubles and has a plan for our lives. That plan is to bless us, but the primary blessing is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus in our character and in the affections of our hearts. He uses struggle and hardship to bring us to the end of ourselves and cause us to turn to Him.
In these verses, we are commanded to bring all our struggles and anxieties – everything – to the Lord in prayer. We must stop our normal pattern of struggle, go to a quiet place, humble ourselves before the Lord who loves us – and tell him what is on our heart. Speak to the Lord, who cares for you, what you are anxious about. However, the tone of this prayer must be “with thanksgiving.” We must not be like Israel of the Old Testament, who brought their requests to the Lord, but with bitter complaining and anger.
Instead, we must look always to what we have to be thankful for from the Lord, then make our request. It may be hard to find something to be thankful for in very difficult circumstances. In times like this, we actually have to turn our minds toward considering, “What can I be thankful for?” This is a good frame of mind to be in – and quickly the Holy Spirit will bring to mind how you have been blessed by the Lord.
When you offer your requests to the Lord in this thankful and hopeful way, your prayers are heard. Regardless of how the Lord chooses to answer your prayer, when you pray in this way the Holy Spirit will bless your soul with peace from God. This peace is not from yourself, but from the Lord and will truly change your outlook on the difficult circumstance which you were in prayer about. The peace that God gives truly calms the soul, and is beyond our understanding. God’s perfect peace will allow you to be still in the midst of great trouble and sorrow. This peace will guard your heart and mind against the trouble that had worked to crush you.
I don’t know what trouble is upon you now – but God does. You don’t know what trouble will come tomorrow – but God does. I urge you to follow this pattern from Scripture during these troubled days. May we humbly, and with thanksgiving, make our anxieties and struggles known to God!
The perfect peace of Christ to you,