A while ago I did a blog about anxiety. In it I talked about the verse Philippians 4:6 where it tells us not to be anxious. In that verse I pointed out that Paul, the author of Philippians, is telling EVERYONE to not be anxious, which means EVERYONE experiences anxiety. He then goes on to tell us how NOT to be anxious: praying with thanksgiving when presenting our requests to God.
Today, I want to go to the next verse and talk about Peace. In my opinion peace is the BEST feeling in the world. I love it when everything aligns just right, and I feel at peace, and can actually relax. But, unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t come around too often and when it does, it doesn’t last as long as I’d like. In Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) it says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus”
I think it’s safe to say that this is something we all want, to be at Peace knowing that God has it covered. There may be things that we don’t understand, or we may not really know how something is going to work out, or even how God Himself works, but knowing that He’s got it covered, and therefore we can be at Peace is an amazing feeling.
As a missionary, pastor, or someone working in the church, it can be tough because we KNOW that God is in control, we KNOW and have SEEN the impossible become possible, yet we still worry and fret about things working out. Whether it be our family, health, the ministry, or even getting through traffic some mornings, we all want this peace, and we know that we can attain it, because we have, but what must we do to keep it?
In verses 8-9 it continues, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”.
These verses make it sound so easy doesn’t it? “Wow, if I just think more “positive” then I will be more at peace”. But, when our world is spinning around (and that may be if you’ve ever had or are prone to getting panic attacks) it’s not so easy to just think about lovely things. In fact, sometimes we have to face reality. We can’t always go around thinking that everything is rainbows and butterfly’s when our world is falling apart, when we aren’t sure how we are going to make the next payment, or if someone close to us may breathe their last breath, or we received horrifying news about our own health, or are having a dispute with a close friend. It’s very difficult to think positively and be at peace in these moments. Or, sometimes, when we are going through the hardest of times, we do have peace, but it’s when we are going through the everyday routine, that we might feel burdened, that God’s not near, and lacking peace.
I think the important thing to gain from this verse is for us to make a habit. Every day when we pray, to be thankful, everyday look around us and see all the beauty and good that is around.
Years ago, I was counseling a student that was not doing well in school both academically and behaviorally. Every single day he was going home with notes from the teacher pointing out every time he got out of his seat, talked out of turn, or didn’t listen or follow directions well. The student wasn’t getting any better, and the parents and teacher were both at their wit’s end. I suggested to the teacher “I would like for you to try and find 3 good things that this student does each day, it doesn’t matter what they are just 3 good things, when he is sitting in his seat, when he is sharing, when he asks a good question, colors his page well, anything, I would like to see 3 positive things”. I did not discourage her or tell her not to continue to write about when the student was doing poorly, but when she was encouraged to write 3 things that he was doing well, naturally those negative notes got less and less, and the students behavior improved. You see, when the teacher was focusing more on finding something positive to say about the student, she didn’t have the time and opportunity to continue to see that he was misbehaving, therefore her perspective changed, and so did her attitude towards him, in turn causing him to do better as well.
I believe this is what Paul, through the Holy Spirit, is trying to teach us. He is isn’t saying that if we just think about the positive nothing negative will happen. But, if we focus on the positive things in our lives, then it won’t give room for us to LOOK for the negative things. It will completely change our outlook, and our perception. Then, once our outlook and perception changes, so does our behavior. During the good times and the bad times, we can recognize “the God of Peace” living in and around us.
1.) If you are having a hard time finding Peace today, I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you what good things He’s doing in your life
2.) I would like for you to write down 3 good things that you see each day. It can be in nature, it can be something someone said, or did that was encouraging, it could even be something like getting a good parking spot, or not having to fight through traffic!
3.) If you feel like your life is so burdened that even though there is a lot to be thankful for, you just can’t get out of the “slump”. Please contact a professional.
Christy Paul, LMHC