By: Carrie Vipperman
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 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 4:4-7)
Children of God look different. At least, we are supposed to look different. In Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi, he encourages them toward specific actions, actions that would mark them as different and set them apart (in a good way) from a watching world.
As children of God, we are called to rejoice, to take pleasure and delight in the Lord. This call is not just for times that circumstances are pleasant and easy to endure but for ALL times. In fact, this challenge is right in the middle of Paul’s plea for feuding church members to settle a dispute and him saying, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:12) The world will rejoice when things are good, but children of God look different as they rejoice at all times.
Paul then addresses how they should be seen by the watching world. They are to be known for their “reasonableness.” The Amplified version of Philippians 4:5 reads “Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people.” What do you think a watching world will think of a people who rejoice while going through triumphs and trials and are consistently gentle, gracious, unselfish, merciful, tolerant, and patient? Maybe it would be the fragrant aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). Maybe it would even raise a few questions that would allow us to point back to the One who makes our unique demeanor possible.
Anxiety and worry are a reality of the broken world we live in, something that every human being will face. So, it makes sense that we are also called to handle our worries in a way that sets us apart from the world. And in God’s kindness, we are not told to just suck it up or figure out how to fix it in our limited strength but are encouraged to take our anxieties to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6). The “everything” we are to take to the Lord is every circumstance and situation we face. Is there something that causes you to worry? Talk to God about it. Nothing is excluded. We aren’t supposed to pick and choose what we bring to God, fragmenting our lives in ways we think make sense. And there is no cap on the prayers we pray. We can continue to bring all of it to God until the anxiety is lifted. But how does the anxiety lift? And can it lift while you are still in need?
We aren’t supposed to pick and choose what we bring to God, fragmenting our lives in ways we think make sense. Click To Tweet
As we continue to make our specific requests known about each and every circumstance and situation, we give thanks. One of the most important tools we have in our fight against worry and anxiety is the intermingling of thanksgiving with our requests. If we just make our requests known and walk away, we’ve missed out.
To help us get an idea of what this might look like, let’s look at a scenario of going through an unexpected job loss. Jobs are important. Paychecks pay bills and put food on the table. It’s definitely a situation that could cause some anxiety and worry! So, there are a few ways we could approach this in prayer. One, we could not pray about it, thus letting the worry build and build. Two, we could pray about it in the typical grocery list style. “Dear Lord, please give me a job. Amen.” Or three, we could remember what we know about God as provider and remember His track record in our life as well as in the Bible. Then, we can spend time praising and thanking Him for all the ways He has provided before as we also lay the need down and ask for His help. The intermingling of thanksgiving with our requests will serve to strengthen us. The time spent remembering God is a generous provider will comfort us. It will increase our faith and help us endure as we wait on the Lord. And it will make us look different. A heart that can be grateful while also being in need is evidence of a changed life.
And the end result of all this is peace – supernatural peace – which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Peace that calms our anxieties and tells our worries to be quiet. Whatever is going on in your life, in all of it, let us be people who rejoice, are reasonable, depend, give thanks and walk in peace. Let’s walk in the joy, gratitude, and peace that only God can provide.