Going Deeper 12/13/18

Philippians 4:4-7   Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Do not worry 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.

In this Advent week with the theme of "joy", this text helps us understand why we can rejoice at all times: because the enemy of joy-- worry-- has been undermined.  Paul urges God's children to "not worry about anything."  Most, if not all, of us, find this hard to accept and practice.  

Perhaps our first reflex is to say to Paul, "Yeah, easy for you to say!"  Well, as a matter of fact, if anyone had much to stress and worry about, it was Paul.  Paul wrote these words from prison!  And how does our list of reasons to worry compare with his? "Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches." (2 Cor. 11)  Oh...

Our next reaction might be to say that Paul had greater faith than we do.  That may be true... but does it have to be true?  Are we not related to the same heavenly Father?  Do we not all have the same brother, Jesus?  Is not the same Holy Spirit available to us?  Do we not have the opportunity to "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let [our] requests be made known to God"?  Do we not have the same access to "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding"?

I will admit that it is hard not to worry.  At the same time, I know that by the grace of God and in His Spirit it is possible to grow and change and to learn to worry less and pray more.  What I have learned is that the vast, vast majority of things I stress and worry about prove to not be an issue at all when all is said and done.  And, more importantly, I continue to learn to release all worries and stresses into God's hands when they come through a simple prayer: "Abba Father, into Your hands I commend..."

Hey, "The Lord is near."  Always.  Everywhere.  That alone is why worry is unnecessary!

With You in His Peace,
Mark

   March 2019   
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