Want Peace? Start Here.
I didn't plan to spend three hours yesterday getting X-rays and a cast for my oldest son.
But it also didn't send me into some kind of frenetic tailspin for one reason: peace. It's a little word we throw around without much thought. On the one hand we make light of its power, saying things like "peace out!" instead of goodbye. On the other, we assume any kind of peace in a world like ours is too far out of reach—completely impossible—and just give up on the idea altogether.
God is very clear that peace is not only attainable, it's readily available just for the asking.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Anxiety is alive and well in our culture. Even our dogs are anxious. (My girls work at a health store and people buy CBD for their overly anxious canines). The antidote to anxiety is prayer. But not just any prayer. Prayer with thanksgiving.
It's fairly difficult to continue to be stressed and worried about something when you're being thankful. Just calling to mind one thing—anything—that's going well in your life will start to turn the tide and change your perspective. Even when all seems lost, there's always something—some little tiny thing—we can find to be thankful for.
Once you get into the mode of gratitude, God says to present your requests to Him. Tell Him all the things. Ask Him for all the blessings. And if you do this, with thanksgiving, the peace of God will pour into you and guard your heart and mind from anxiety. It may not change your circumstances, but it will change your mindset. Peace will replace worry.
Two more things:
1. "The Lord is near." Many of us are more than familiar with Philippians 4:6-7, you may even have it memorized. But no one ever puts the preceding verse, 4:5, with it. And yet it makes all the difference. Philippians 4:5 says "The Lord is near." And if the Lord is near, how can we possibly be anxious? If the Lord is near how can we not be thankful? If the Lord is near we have everything we need. If the Lord is near we have peace.
2. Keep your mind (and the Evil One) from stealing your peace. The next verses tell us how to do that: focus on only what is "excellent or praiseworthy." In other words, get your mind out of the gutter!
"Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
There's a whole lot of the opposite out there in the world. (Staying off of Twitter would be a good place to start if you want to avoid things that are not true, ignoble, wrong, impure... you get the point).
Focusing on that which is excellent and praiseworthy—all the beauty and joy and love this world has to offer—will go a long way in maintaining your peace and overcoming anxiety.
Peace be with you this day and always.