“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV) “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:4-7 The Message)
Lord, please open our eyes and hearts to what you want to tell us today. Give us the ability to see our worldy situation from your point of view. You have chosen us. You have said “Come.” Help us to see that is precisely what we should do and what that looks like in our daily lives. Amen.
I’m so naturally a worrier - I truly seem to think that if I don’t dwell on all the possibilities of a situation that I won’t be prepared for what might happen. Yes, preparation is good, but obsessively making sure that all it taken care of...not so much.
This passage is one that I return to almost daily and I thank God for reminding me of it yet again today. It is sooo easy to sink right back into claiming control over whatever is going on, and return to worry.
I have always gone to the to the “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” For me, this is a practical, daily reminder to surrender myself and my life fully to Christ each day and to do it in praise and thanksgiving.
But today I have noticed how the passage begins with a reminder to “let your gentleness be evident to all” and then reminds me not to be anxious. I never really thought how my worry displaces gentleness, but as I think about it now, I realize that my fretting does not leave room for being present in the PRESENT and caring and interacting in the moment with those around me. Which leaves me little room to understand, care and show compassion to those around me. Gentleness.
Last year I went through months where I couldn’t swallow. Literally, one day I was driving home from a funeral and felt like a piece of a chip had lodged in my throat. A whole series of tests and medications and doctors, later, I’ve been diagnosed with an auto-immune issue that causes the dysphagia and I’ve also learned to adapt so that I don’t eat things that leave me feeling like I’m choking.
But when I first began walking through this ordeal, I was HIGHLY anxious. I didn’t know what to do. My husband travels frequently and I would preplan who to call and what the kids should do if I were to choke while he was gone. I completely freaked out my kids. My husband was afraid to leave - he knew choking was a possibility and he was anxious about me while he was gone as well.
I would plan my days so that I didn’t eat at home alone and never took any medications that might get stuck in my throat without someone present.
I was driving myself insane....and it turns out...others as well. A conversation with one willing to share God’s truth in this situation, pointed out that I was asking everyone around me to prepare for the worst as if it would happen at any moment.
In fact, I have the exact words (they were written down so I could have them and rehearse them until I believed them and lived them): “Everyone - including God - will respond appropriately to the “current” situation not the future (anxious) “possibility.”
My gentleness wasn’t evident anywhere; instead I created a wave of anxiety so that I wouldn’t be alone in my sense of urgency and emergency.
Is your gentleness evident? Have you handed your anxieties to God? Have you thanked Him and praised Him even in the midst of worries? Are you letting Christ displace the worry in the center of your life?
I’m so thankful we have a God full of compassion and love that does not leave us alone in our anxiety!