This year has been something else, hasn’t it? Between everything that has happened globally as well as personally, has anyone really had a chance to take a breath? It seems we keep moving from one thing to the next without so much as a five-minute pause to take stock of our circumstances. Philippians 4:6-7 is the passage God gave me for 2020 and as I go through it, hopefully it will bring you as much comfort as it has brought me this year.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Let’s take a look at this passage:
6“Do not be anxious (or worried) about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. On January 1st, 2020, while we were celebrating the new year and everything we hoped it would bring, God knew what the reality would be. Nothing that’s happened has been a surprise to Him. While we could argue that since He knew what the year would hold, it was also in His power to prevent the events that have taken place. This opens up a whole conversation about sin and why terrible things happen and how our good, good Father could allow it. The thing is, I don’t know. I don’t know why the events of this year had to happen and why God didn’t intervene in January and prevent them. All I know is that He is Lord of it all and that He has a big picture view. Maybe some of the things we have faced this year have a purpose and perhaps we had to walk through it to get to wherever God is leading us.
In Every Situation…
We may never have all the answers to our questions about this year, but Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, …. present your requests to God”. There have been plenty of times this year where even the most minor things have felt overwhelming. And maybe the hardest part of these situations has been the thought that “this shouldn’t be this hard” and then not presenting it to God because it’s just a “minor thing”. But you know what? God cares about the minor things. You know when stuff seems to be piling up and the fact that you can’t find matching socks just pushes you over the edge? God cares about that. He cares about every moment of your day; every thought you have; every situation that might make you feel anxious or worried.
Regardless of what we’re facing, we can present our requests to God. And how do we do that? “By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”. Other translations use the word “supplication” instead of petition. Essentially this means to make a request for something earnestly. “With thanksgiving” in this context goes beyond just saying thank you. This refers to a posture of thanksgiving and gratitude for who God is and all He has done. It is also a way to remember that God is God and we are not. When we present our requests to God and submit our present circumstances to Him in this way, it reveals a posture of humility and acknowledges our utter dependence on Him and complete trust in Him.
The Peace of God…
7“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God is no ordinary peace. When we are intentional about submitting our anxieties, our fears and our overwhelming circumstances to God, He will fill us with a peace that goes beyond our human way of understanding the world. By that I mean that we will be able to experience peace in the middle of circumstances that would not ordinarily bring peace and in ways that are above our understanding. The peace of God is also able to protect our hearts and minds against the things that cause us to worry and be filled with anxiety.
On that note, presenting our requests to God and submitting our circumstances to Him does not guarantee that our circumstances will change. In my experience, it almost always does not affect my circumstances, only my attitude and approach to those circumstances. With His peace that transcends all understanding guarding my heart and my mind, I am able to face my circumstances with a fresh perspective and not be overwhelmed by them.
One final encouragement: please don’t write this year off. I know it’s been hard and nothing like what you may have expected. Take some time and write out every time you’ve seen God move this year despite your circumstances. Make a note of the moments you have felt Him near, or when you called on Him and He answered. After you’ve done that, ask Him what you can do to make the most out of the rest of this year. What does it look like for you to walk closely with Him, one step at a time, wherever He is calling you? Hold on to those things you wrote down every time you feel overwhelmed by this year and allow His peace to guard your hearts and your minds against any anxiety and worry. Feel free to save this image to remind yourself of who you can turn to in the midst of the hard stuff.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!