Peace of mind is hard to come by when you have worries that dominate your life. I’ve been tempted to worry about personal finances and the direction of our church in recent days. When I worry, I can be sure that I’ve taken my eyes off of God and focused my attention elsewhere. The anxiety takes deep root in my heart and mind to the point that I’m no longer able to concentrate. I tried to take a short nap last week and kept turning in my bed for 30 minutes. For me that is uncharacteristic.
So how do we kill worry and experience God’s peace in our minds and hearts? Well, we can’t force God to give us peace. It is a gift that God intends to give through his Word. Have you noticed how many of the New Testament letters begin by saying, “Grace and peace to you“? We can’t control the peace of God any more than we can control a waterfall. But we can get under a waterfall. And we can get under the waterfall of God’s peace that he loves to pour out on us in Christ Jesus. So, how do we position ourselves to experience God’s peace? I want to give you 3 prerequisites to position yourself to experience God’s peace. Think about Philippians 4.4-7.
Philippians 4:4–7 —4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The three prerequisites to experiencing God’s peace are rejoice, be gracious, and pray your worries.
REJOICE IN JESUS
First, rejoice in the Lord Jesus. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (v. 4) We are to rejoice in Jesus Christ. He is the Lord. He lived for us. He died for our sins in our place. He rose from the dead for us. Rejoice in the gospel of God’s goodness in Christ! He’s with us (Matt 28.20). Don’t base your joy on the current circumstances as you first see them. Base your joy on the current circumstances as Jesus Christ is active before, in, and after them. He saved you. He’s working in you. Right now. He’s using the current trial to draw you nearer to him. So look at your trial. Then look at Jesus. Then rejoice in Jesus. Rejoice in Jesus constantly. Always.
BE GRACIOUS TO EVERYONE
Second, be gracious to everyone to the point where it’s obvious. “Let your graciousness be known to everyone” (v. 5). Be gracious to others when you’re tempted to worry. Let your joy in Jesus lead to graciousness toward everyone you interact with. When worried we often excuse ourselves from loving others. We feel justified to snap at others. We’re often irritated before the conversation even begins. That destroys God’s peace in your heart and mind. Don’t let the worry and trial become an excuse to be a jerk to others. Be gracious to all in a way that is obvious to everyone. Why? Because the Lord Jesus is near. Perhaps this refers to his second coming. If so, I should remind myself that when I’m stressed I still have to give an account to Jesus for how I treat each person. And that judgment is near because the Lord is near. Or perhaps “the Lord is near” refers to his presence when we’re interacting with other people. Either way, judgment day and his closeness when I interact with others drives me to be gracious to them.
PRAY YOUR WORRIES
Last, pray your worries. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (v. 6). Here’s the third key. Pray about everything. Worry about nothing. Take every worry and pray it to God. Ask him about it. Ask him to come through. Ask for his will to be done in you and through you in the trial. And here’s the hard part: “with thanksgiving.” Thank God for the trial and his purpose in the anxiety even before it is resolved. Thank God. Even when you don’t know why you should be thankful. I often find myself saying to God, “Father, thank you for this trial. But I don’t know why I should thank you for it. Can you show me why I should be thankful to you for it right now?” God has provided answers and insights into trials again and again that fill my heart with gratitude before the trial is resolved! When you start thanking God for 5, 10, or 20 aspects of the trial, verse 7 inevitably happens. So let’s read on.
When burdened by worry, what is the result of (1) rejoicing in Jesus, (2) being gracious to everyone, and (3) praying your worries to God with thanksgiving? “The peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). There it is. God’s peace guards you in difficulties when you rejoice in him, deal kindly with those around you, and you pray your worries. How can you be genuinely thankful and worrying at the same time? You can’t. We can never be overwhelmed by gratitude and overcome by anxiety simultaneously. One must give to the other. So, rejoice in Jesus and the gospel. Be gracious to those around you. Pray your worries with thanksgiving after thanksgiving in your trials. And experience the waterfall of God’s peace!
Does this make sense to you? Please share a thought, comment, or question below to join the conversation.