Being anxious for not one thing is a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say? I read these words and think surely they were written by someone who lived in another world.
After all, this is the day in which Christians are persecuted for their faith. Entire groups of people are being uprooted and displaced. Nations rock from the winds of cultural shock, financial collapse, and horrifying evil. A world that seems to be spinning out of control sends chills down my spine.
Even closer to home are troublesome issues. The death of too-many-too-young-to-die begs for answers to the why questions. And then there are the sick and the lonely. One cannot visit or call enough to meet the needs all around. Some who have fallen likely won’t get up, be it physically or emotionally.
So how did the old Apostle—or God—expect us not to be anxious? Is a non-anxious existence even possible in our world?
Tall orders call for tall actions! That weary and worn old missionary/preacher recommended prayer as the answer. “Tell God,” he says, “and His peace (which, by the way, you won’t understand) will guard your heart and mind.”1
My heart certainly needs some guarding. Do you ever feel like wearing a sign that says, “Caution: Too many straws dumped here could break this camel’s back!”
Then Paul added another action to the plan for not being anxious: “Think on good things.” Obviously, I’m dwelling on the bad ones: the fear; the pain, the loss, the suffering. How about you? What are you thinking on?
But Paul said we shouldn’t. Apparently, there are better things to focus on that are true, not fabricated; noble, not shameful; just, not unfair; pure, not defiled; lovely, not despicable; and good, not evil.
So what was I thinking? Of course there are things that are virtuous and praiseworthy. Paul said to think about them and meditate on them, and then will come the great promise of God: P – E – A – C – E.
The peace that God promises to us is a perfect peace that the world cannot receive, but it can be mine and yours. That is, if we follow Paul’s instructions and be careful what we think about.2
You see, Paul knew by experience what he was talking about, for he also lived in a world that persecuted Christians for their faith. He was one of them. The next time our faithless words “Really, God?” question His control over our messed-up world, we must closely listen for God’s calm and loving response: “Really, my child, really.” I’m certain that Paul did.
I’m praying for each of you to have God’s indescribable peace in your life today in spite of the turmoil in your world. Really. ~ Janie Kellogg
1Philippians 4:6-9; 2Isaiah 26:3