Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.
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.
This is my favorite scripture because it addresses several themes, including anxiety and hope. Many years ago, I read it posted above a colleague’s desk, and it reached out and grabbed my heart. I have read it a thousand times since. I have struggled with anxiety at different times in my life, and this scripture provides a hopeful and peaceful message, which calms my worries.
The author Paul basically provides a prescription for peace and hope. He commands his audience to rejoice (and repeats himself for emphasis) and to be gentle; to not be anxious, but rather to pray and be thankful. He says that if we do these things, and this is my favorite part… that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.” I LOVE that. Paul then provides instruction to meditate on things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. It is a centuries-old guide to meditation!
I am still working on following Paul’s instructions. I am good at meditating, being gentle, and being thankful. I am still working on praying regularly and rejoicing. Again, he really emphasizes “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” One more time for those in the back? I hear you Paul. I promise to work on that.
I am very impatient. This is one of my biggest weaknesses. I tend to want to understand exactly how and when relief is going to come, whether from physical or emotional pain. This has really come to light in the past months during the pandemic. But I love that Paul says, no, you will not understand, because God knows things that are more complex than you can understand. However, the relief from your current suffering will be peaceful. This is HOPE.
You continue to always show us that there is a path through hard times. Thank you for these words from Paul which remind us of your spirit of peace and hope. Help me remember to trust you, even, and especially, in scary times. Show me how to rejoice in you.