The Peace of God | by Shelly McGraw
No matter how exciting life can be sometimes, it can also be full of anxiety.
For example, I love learning but I hate taking tests.
I hate it.
My brain overthinks every single question and I begin to trip over the most basic true and false statements. By the second question, my stomach is in knots and time slows to a crawl.
It’s not that I can’t retain information, because I usually do really well.
It’s that I allow anxiousness to get a foothold.
In Philippians chapter 4, the apostle Paul gives us amazing encouragement and instructions when we’re drowning in anxious thoughts:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
But maybe your anxiousness comes from a much more serious reality or struggle. Perhaps you feel as though some old guy from the early 60s AD couldn’t possibly understand what real anxiousness feel like.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was in a prison in Rome for preaching the gospel.
He faced immense persecution and was later martyred for his faith under the emperor, Nero, in the name of politics, discrimination, and hatred.
Paul knew exactly what it meant to be anxious, stressed, and worried.
However, in spite of his dire circumstances, Paul goes on to write this:
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:12-13
Can you imagine?
You’re imprisoned and know you’re more than likely going to die in the worst way possible for your faith and obedience to Christ…and you write something so calm and full of contentment and resolve.
He didn’t complain or talk trash about the leaders of Rome or the culture that hated him-although our flesh tells us he had the right to do so.
He instead, chose to serve Jesus to very end by writing a letter of encouragement to the Philippians. He used his own terrible situation and knowledge of his future death to advance the Body of Christ.
I don’t know about you, but reading Paul’s words puts my small problems into proper perspective. If Paul can focus on prayer and thanksgiving, trusting that God is in control no matter what happens, then I can too.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:8-9
Focusing on prayer and thanking won’t make our situation disappear or magically create a fairytale ending.
But choosing to live in the peace of God in spite of our circumstances not only releases the foothold anxiousness can have on our lives, but can also become our ministry to others going through the same struggles.
So, let’s put into practice how Christ Jesus has instructed us to live, think, and respond in every situation so the peace of God will forever be with us.