4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
As I read this scripture, I can’t help but think, “Be glad, always!” Hmmm. Really, St. Paul? The scripture goes on to say, “don’t be anxious about anything.” In my head, I hear a version of the Bobby McFerrin song, Don’t Worry Be Happy. I think, how do we really do that? I wonder if not giving into worry is really possible. As I read Philippians 4 further, I hear Paul’s guidance to focus my thoughts on what is holy, just, true… “all that is lovely, and worthy of praise.”
So instead, I cannot help but think of what a common struggle it is to not fall victim to our worries. I think of the hundreds of things that people worry about. I think of small anxieties and the larger life and death issues that grip us or keep us in fear. There is no need to suggest any particular worries because we need not compare one grievance to the next. We all have them, big and small.
Then, I slow myself down and take a prayerful breath. I think about who keeps us glad, so that we are not full of worry all the time. In God we trust. Through prayer, we live because it is God whom we trust to hold us when we worry.
We are not glad by just pretending to ignore the fears we have. We are not glad because we are just imagining that life will always be okay. But we are glad because we know that God holds our worries and fears much better than we ever can! We are glad because we can trust and petition God through prayer. We don’t have to hold our worries alone. We are glad because what is true and just and lovely is our God.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
What are the worries that hold you back? How does it help you to know that God holds us and all of our fears? How do you petition God, letting God know that God is the One you trust? How is God’s presence a part of your life?
Prayer: Gracious God, hold us when we hurt. You know our worries and our ways and yet you carry us throughout our lives. When we worry, call us to you, Lord. Call us to trust in you and find peace. Amen.