The last few weeks of 2021 have been full of challenges and uncertainty, and I find when I go through seasons like this that it’s easy for me to worry, how about you? What do you think?
I’m reminded of Paul’s words in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 4 verses 6-7. It is there that we read, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.”
The very fact that Paul mentions in verse 6 that his readers should be “anxious for nothing” suggests that Paul understood that people have a proclivity to worry and anxiety. Paul’s focus isn’t on the “anxiety”. Instead, it is on the reason we should be anxious for nothing: Because in everything we are making our requests known to God!
The use of the word “everything” suggests that there is nothing too small to God because there is nothing that looks BIG to God! You could say humans after the fall were born worriers; yet Paul doesn’t serve up the platitude of “Ah just pray about it.” Instead, he uses three different words to illustrate right communication with God! You see, anxiety and worry are not best served by bottling them up; no, they are defeated by right communication.
And right communication has three aspects to it:
1. Adoration: Right communication needs to be directed to the Right Person (GOD) if you are going to defeat anxiety and worry. Communication to God is extremely personal and we are to communicate to Him out of love, knowing His greatness and willingness to hear what is troubling us. I’ve noticed something about this type of communication in grandkids to a grandfather, when something has caused them to be anxious or worried, they don’t go to grandpa with a laundry list. Instead, they go and throw themselves in his arms just to him to hold them because they believe grandpa is big enough to solve their problems. Far too often when we are consumed with worry and anxiety we run to God shouting out our needs instead of just running into His loving arms and being still!
2. Supplication: The second aspect of our communication is the honest sharing of our worry and anxiety. And it carries with it the idea of continuance, as we are to keep it up over and over. A lot of the time worriers spend all their time telling God what to do instead of telling God where they are at. In Genesis 3:9 immediately after Adam and Eve disobeyed, the first question God asks them is “Where are you”? Remember God is all knowing, so the question wasn’t a hide and seek question. God wanted them to tell Him what they finally did in verse 10:
“I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Our communication should not be a laundry list of what we want God to do, instead it should be a time of honest confession to the question of, “Where are you?” “Lord, I’ve hid myself in worry and covered myself with the fig leave of anxiety because I lost my job. Lord right now I’m consumed in doubt and fear and because of this I’m not able to hear your voice as I’ve become lost in the garden of worry.” Supplication is about honest confession to “Where are you?” God doesn’t require from us the knowledge of how to fix the problem, He requires from us the honesty to admit we have a problem that only He can fix!
3. Appreciation: The final aspect of right communication is thanksgiving, but the “thank you” comes before we have seen or heard the answer because it has already found the answer in the Lord! We, worriers, come to the Lord with our shopping list and a stopwatch and both of those have to come out towards our expectation before we offer a thank you. The right communication that Paul is suggesting is long on worship, confession and thanksgiving but missing telling God what the problem is and what to do to fix it to our expectations. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 that our heavenly “Father knows the things we need before we ask Him.” I’m afraid that a lot of us act as if God is incompetent and forgetful as we tell Him over and over what our problem is and how we want it fixed.
In verse 7 Paul tells his readers that the result of this threefold type of communication will be that the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” Paul isn’t saying that we will avoid the trial or circumstance that has taken your heart and mind captive to worry and anxiety. What he is saying is that the “peace of God” will stand guard over your heart and mind so that worry, and anxiety won’t be able to cause paralysis. This peace is not based upon our understanding of the “why”. We have peace as it is outside of our understanding of the outcome. What makes this great is that we don’t have to wait for the outcome to experience the “peace of God”
We can enjoy the peace of God right now! And that’s because the “peace of God” is “through Jesus Christ” and not through our understanding of the outcome.
This has been a message from Pastor Dale, and I’m Erick, just reading his notes. Blessings