Today’s reading: Philippians 4
If you’ve ever thought the Bible was dated and not overly applicable to the 21st century, I hope you walked away after reading the forth chapter of Philippians today with a different opinion. I found Paul’s closing words to the church in Philippi powerful and very pertinent. Let’s start with the first half of verse 6:
… do not be anxious about anything…
The Oxford English Dictionary defines anxiety as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Sound vaguely familiar to feelings you’ve experienced before? Let’s take it a step further, anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness because they involve excessive fear or anxiety. Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common of type of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives (www.Psychiatry.org)? As adapted from the Harvard Law School urban legend, think about it this way – look to the person sitting on your left, now look to the person sitting on your right, one of you will struggle with an anxiety disorder some time in your adult life. Oh boy, I’m not sure I like those odds. Fortunately, Paul follows this statement with some really practical advice for us.
…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 4:6-7).
What is the opposite of anxiety, fear, nervousness or uneasiness? Peace. Not the absence of conflict, positive thinking, or simply feeling calm. The peace Paul is talking about in verse 7 is the confident assurance that God works all things together according to his divine plan, a comfort that he has every situation under control.
Do you remember our study of John 14 last Christmas? In this chapter, Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for life without him. These men had left EVERYTHING to follow Jesus. To say they had anxiety about him taking off and leaving them on their own was probably an understatement. I find Jesus’ words every bit as comforting today as they were to his disciples in the first century.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Rise, let us go from here (John 14:27-31).
Do you see Jesus’ words of peace? – “…for the prince of this world is coming…he has no hold over me…” Knowing that Jesus has power over Satan, the root of all evil, is how we can be confident he has every situation under control. Turning our cares over to Jesus is the antidote for anxiety. He is our peace.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever (Philippians 4:19-20).