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 4:6-7)
It’s ironic that Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi while he was imprisoned. If there was a time to be anxious, that would have been it.
Although Paul’s exhortation is not quite the same message as is in the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,”* his words clearly speak to this tendency we humans have to be anxious about this, that, or the other thing. Some of these things are flat-out overwhelming. Instead of “anxious” different versions of the Bible use words like careful (e.g. full of care), fret, worry, and pulled in different directions to express the same idea.
Instead, Paul suggests we pray, lifting our requests to GOD in gratitude, both for past needs met and in faith that current needs will be met. Not quite what you had in mind? What about if GOD would just make all this uncomfortable, unpleasant stuff go away?! You ever see that actually happen? Neither have I. It’s just not in the cards for us, or more accurately, in His Word. His pathway for us is different.
How many things currently occupying your mind might be classified as an anxiety, a care, a worry, a frustration, a conflict, etc.? I’ve got my list, and it seems to have grown rather than gotten shorter. I’ve also discovered something that I can only describe as mystical. The more time I spend with GOD in prayer, the more I look forward to spending time with Him. It is a hunger that has grown with practice, and it continues to grow. With it has come my desire to express thanks, not because I’m supposed to but because I want to, for the smallest of blessings and for the larger ones as well. The truth is, I am incredibly blessed; I have benefitted greatly from GOD’s favor. He has shone His face toward me (a biblical way of indicating GOD’s intent to bless) and extended grace upon grace to me. I know it and it has become pleasing to say “Thank You.”
And there’s this other dynamic that I’m conscious of. The fretful things that want to occupy my thoughts don’t seem to have the power they’ve had in the past. It’s not they aren’t there; they are and sometimes the temptation to dwell on them is pronounced. I’ve noticed, however, the presence of peace in every circumstance and this is allowing me to ‘let go’ of the temptation to fret when my natural inclination is to grasp the concern and keep it close.
I was thinking about this experience lately, and all of a sudden the thought came to me that I was experiencing a peace that I couldn’t account for. I’ve been experiencing that peace that is beyond (transcends) understanding. And it’s all because I have upped my commitment to pray about the things that concern me with a heart of thanksgiving. It does work! Thank You, Lord.
* “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.