Peace Beyond Understanding
Anxiety is the most pervasive psychological problem in our society, however, studies have shown that 90% of what we worry about never happens.
Anxiety is largely about perspective. Marketers and politicians know this all too well, using it to their advantage. Today, get anxious about things they haven’t seen but have heard about on the internet.
JB Phillips in his book “your God is too small” wrote: “the trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for their everyday needs”
Fear prevents many Christians from experiencing all that God intends for our lives. Satan uses anxiety to create a cowardly, joyless soul. Fear wants you to take your eyes off the mountain peak and settle for the dull existence of the flat lands. But Satan has been overcome and Jesus won the victory on the cross (Hebrews 13:6).
In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul addresses anxiety and it is very practical and transformational as we apply the principles of God’s word. Jesus, while preaching the sermon on the mount, took a significant portion of his discourse to address the futility of anxiety (Matthew 6:34).
The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to experience hardship, he was in chains as he wrote this letter. He had every reason to be anxious, but rather he is full of joy and encouragement.
What was Paul’s secret?
Paul starts verse 4 by making an imperative statement, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” There is a huge difference between joy and happiness; joy flows out of security in a relationship. There is a direct connection between joy and love. Gaining a greater understanding of the love that God, your Heavenly Father, has for you, will give you peace and joy (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Paul had the same confidence as the prophet Habakkuk, Paul was convinced that God was in control and that God would fulfill the promises of His word (Romans 8:28).
Do we have that same confidence? Or am I anxious because deep down, I am not fully convinced that God is able, that God is truly good. When we really search our hearts, the root of anxiety can be traced to unbelief in the all-powerful creator of the universe.
Verse 5 continues, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand”
We as followers of Jesus are to be known as people who are reasonable. But not just reasonable, the Greek word incorporates all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). As we live the Spirit-filled life we will exhibit these qualities to those around us.
Verse 6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
The key to overcoming anxiety is prayer. Paul makes an imperative statement, “do not be anxious about anything”. Anxiety leads to multiple physical maladies, prayer is the Biblical prescription for the illness of anxiety.
1: Prayer – Is the attitude of the person coming before the all-holy, all-powerful creator. Prayer is by nature humility, a recognition of who we are communicating with.
Prayer never begins with words – it begins in the heart, a humble attitude towards God.
Prayer is stepping away from the rushing world, trying to do it myself, a place where I am the problem solver, and throwing myself with dependence and recognition on the Creator of the universe. But so much more than this, we as believers in Jesus Christ can call the Creator, Father! This is prayer.
2: Supplication –Sharing our needs and problems with God. Not because He doesn’t know what we need, but rather because as we verbalize our needs, God works in our own hearts and prepares us for the answer to our prayers. God uses the prayers of the saints, His children, to change things. God doesn’t need our prayers, but He responds when we pray, because that is the way He has ordered the universe. We have a vital and powerful part to play through prayer. Prayer is a declaration of faith, because by presenting our requests to God, we are stating that He is able (Hebrews 11:6).
3: Thanksgiving – This is crucial, thank God before you have received the answer to your prayers.
All prayer is to be accompanied by thanksgiving. Thankful that God has heard our prayers, that God is moving on our behalf, that God has answered our prayers. We are to be thankful because God is going to give us exactly what we need in response to our prayers. Satan’s lies, cannot exist in a life full of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is Worship, putting God in the place of preeminence.
And then finally verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Through prayer, we can experience the peace of God, a miraculous work of God bringing peace to the heart and mind of the believer. It does not mean the absence of trials, Jesus said we would still have that (John 16:33). The peace of God is the ability to handle the trials without them stealing our joy.
This is supernatural, this is too much for us to grasp, “it surpasses all understanding”. This is the peace that makes the people around ask how we can remain calm during the storms of life. This peace is the result of the person who has taken everything to God in prayer, with thanksgiving.
This peace of God will also provide a guard for our hearts and minds. the peace of God is a protection against anxiety, stress and against bitterness towards those who have wronged us.
The peace of God is a guard and a protection against the lies of the enemy.
Verse 7 ends with the key, the key to this peace and joy is found in Christ Jesus. Only in the completed work of what Jesus did on the Cross and by his resurrection power are we able to experience the peace of God.