Dear brothers and sisters these are trying times to be alive. There is every opportunity to be afraid and take on the anxiety of the world. It is very easy in these troublesome days to get wrapped up in the negative things that are taking place in the world and become weighed down with cares to the point of collapse. But God has provided us with a better way to proceed even in troubled times. In fact, I believe I can say that God uses the fear-mongering of the age to teach us His way of peace that comes from thanksgiving.
If you haven’t already done so, go back and read the scripture passage above. Read it slowly and deliberately as if God Himself were speaking the words to you. Let the words inspired by the Holy Spirit wash over your soul and release the peace that flows from your spirit.
Paul, as moved by the Holy Spirit, tells us not to be anxious about anything. I would draw your attention to the word “anything.” That word covers any issue in your life that may be producing anxiety or fear. Arthritis in your hands. Gaining too much weight. Turmoil in your family. Your child comes home with bad grades. ISIS just murdered more people in the Middle East. A presidential candidate says something you disagree with. You found out you have cancer. A friend or loved one passed away. You had an argument with your spouse.
Need I go on? I think you get the point. “Anything” is big and it includes all of the above and much more. We are called as genuine followers of Christ to come to a place where we have no anxiety about ANYTHING. Impossible!! You say. Tell that to Jesus who said, “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life” (Matt. 6:25). He calls us to a life that is impossible. A life that can only be lived in His power and by His presence—a life that can only be lived by Him as He lives in us.
Then, brother Paul tells us in the passage, “… in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Now he turns it all toward the positive. In “everything” we are to pray and be thankful as we simply give it all to God. Just as anxious “anything” is big the giving over of EVERYTHING to God in prayer and thanksgiving is huge as well.
All of this is “by prayer, supplication with thanksgiving.” The word “by” means that the means of coming to a place where anxiety has no place in our lives is by prayer, supplication with thanksgiving. With that attitude we make our requests to God.
Don’t miss that last part. We are not called to just ignore the troubles and pretend they don’t exist. We are to “let your requests be made known to God.” Let Him know how you feel. Give it over to His wide shoulders and let Him carry it. Or as Peter says “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Or as Jesus put it, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
“Rest for your souls.” That’s what we all want, whether we are followers of Christ or the most rebellious of sinners. We want rest for our souls. Peter tells us in our passage that the end result of all we have shared about anxiety and prayer and thanksgiving, and making our requests to God is followed by, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When you give it to Him, peace comes.
Are you anxious about ISIS or our fellow believers in the Middle East? Are you anxious about this crazy election we are all witnessing? Apply all of this truth to these things or any challenge you face and watch God move in your life. Watch God bring in His peace that understanding cannot fathom—a peace much bigger and more powerful than all the evil Satan can bring forth out of the pit of hell.
This peace that He brings will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We need a guard over our hearts and minds in these anxiety-prone days. The guard is the peace of God flowing from His throne to our hearts by the Spirit who dwells inside our hearts. He has provided hope and help and we need to begin to become genuine followers of Christ by availing ourselves of His provision.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and may the peace of God guard your hearts from all the turmoil of this world and its god. May every day be a day of thanksgiving for you and yours as we pursue the God of peace and live in His presence.
This is Mary with just a few words to share. This last year was a very intense, stressful year for me. I lost my brother and sister-in-law, fractured my pelvis and moved away from my home. I didn’t know I was taking all this inside, but I was. Everything happened so quickly and almost at the same time I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. When I did, I was so overwhelmed I felt like I was drowning and could not come up for air. All this stress affected my body, my thoughts, and my health.
I am sharing this with you to tell you that God wants all your worries, anxieties, your concerns because He has a plan for you and He will be the Faithful One to carry them out. You do not have to be afraid or worry because if you will “cast your cares on Him” He will sustain you. I learned that much later this year and will say it is a process but He wants us to be free of worry. Remember He sees a sparrow fall and knows about it. The wonderful song says “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Take heart, brothers and sisters, He knows. He is calling you to keep your eyes on Him and remember the promises of His Word. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT, He makes me lie down in green pastures (rest-trust) He leads me beside still (quiet) waters; He restores my soul, He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and staff they comfort me. …” (Ps.23:1-4)
Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow! Have a blessed time with your family giving gratitude to the One Who is and Who is to come!