Where do you look when you need a little encouragement? This portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians gives them exactly that so they don’t lose heart. It takes work to be positive amidst struggle, ridicule, and, for the Philippian church, to be new Christians living among Jews who thought they were crazy.
We may take some of the same kind of heat for our own faith. I think that’s why we often keep our mouths shut when the opposite is more appropriate for the situation. We worry about what people will think of us. We worry we won’t have the right words to say. We certainly don’t want to ever do anything to bring shame to Jesus with our blunders.
It’s appropriate that Paul’s counsel is “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” There is something very therapeutic when you can leave your worries at Jesus’ feet simply by praying and believing you have been heard.
How many times have you not prayed for something and clung to your worry instead? Maybe you told yourself God already knows what you’re going through, there’s no need to pray. Instead, to recapture the joy God intends, we need to pray. That’s why Paul encourages us to “tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Why is that so hard? Note there are two parts to Paul’s instruction. Thanking God is also a very important part of prayer. Showing our gratitude doesn’t only give God a message of appreciation, but it helps us, too. It’s very hard to be mad, fearful, sad, or angry when you’re focused on giving thanks to God for the blessings in your life.
There are some real gems in today’s short passage. Being in relationship with God has so many perks. Joy and peace are two very precious gifts we can experience when we are open to God, sharing our needs and desires with him. The world can be crumbling around us, but when we remember what Jesus did for us, how God sent his son to die for us out of his love, we can’t help but feel something profound.
I call that little flutter in my stomach joy. That’s the joy from being “in the Lord.” If I’m having a bad day and need a boost of joy, I just remember what Jesus did for me, what he is doing for me every day, and what he will do when he comes again. Our text even says to remember, “the Lord is coming soon.” Even if we take the Greek translation, “the Lord is near,” that can also help us muster up some joy when we need it.
I would encourage you to sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine that Jesus is sitting right beside you. You can almost hear his breath and feel his heart beating with love for you. In the silence of that moment, imagine he reaches his hand to yours. You sit there together, feeling a peace you can’t describe. It’s like the world has faded away.
This is the last of our texts on the theme “Holy Spirit & Prayer.” The message that rings out for me is, don’t worry, simply pray. Trust Jesus to bring the joy and peace.
Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me for those times when I try to figure it out or do it all myself and feel overwhelmed. I know I don’t need to get lost in my worry but simply pray. Thank you that I can come to you and tell you exactly what I need. You will listen and respond with what is best for me. Fill me with your peace today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.