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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Recently I’ve been revisiting my childhood by reading through the Anne of Green Gables series. For those of you unfamiliar, Anne is a precocious orphan with a big heart and even bigger imagination. She spends hours lost in worlds of fairies and queens and far away lands. One chapter shows how her imagination gets the better of her as she lives in mortal dread of a part of the woods that she has imagined is haunted. It started off as imagination, but she soon has trouble discerning fact from fiction.
I find myself just like Anne of Green Gables so often. Lost in the fiction of “what ifs” and fears of the unknown. I can find myself quickly imagining worst case scenarios with almost any area of my life, and that is on a good day. I have to be honest, anxiety and fear have had a hold on me for far too many years. It’s all rooted in my desire to be in control, or fear of loosing control. When I feel out of control of any area of life, that anxiety rears up and all the fears come rushing in. These past few weeks of losing control and the very present threats to our society have found me battling that anxiety once again. But these verses offer us hope and practical advice to do battle.
First of all we see the correlation of peace and God’s presence. In verse 5 it says the Lord is at hand, and the next words are “do not be anxious.” Verse 7 outlines that the peace is in Christ Jesus. The reality that we have to understand is that outside of Christ we truly don’t have any hope for peace. Because on our own we have to acknowledge that we do not have hope for control. We haven’t lost control these past few weeks, we never had it to begin with. We can’t control wealth, weather, health, our friends, or even death. We are finite. But the Psalms shows us God’s control over the creation, rulers, enemies, health, our days. Jesus shows us through His miracles that the things we cannot control have no power over Him. It is such good news to remember that we can trust God to deliver us, that He knows our days and has a plan for us! Acts 17:26-27 says “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” We can trust God’s plan to draw us to Himself, and rest in that knowledge no matter what comes our way.
Secondly we see the call to action. We can’t let our thoughts and emotions get the best of us. We must train, or “practice” as Paul says in verse 9, aligning our heart and mind with truth. That’s what keeps our thoughts in check, remembering that God is in control. He does have a plan. We have to dialogue with Him, “let your requests be made known to God” in order to hear Him speak the truth of His love and control over our hearts. And sometimes we have to just set our minds on the truth of a situation, not the what ifs.
Let’s be encouraged family. We serve a God who is in control. A God who loves us and wants to hear from us, and offer us peace! So let’s set our minds on His gospel and love, and find peace in His presence.