“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Finally, brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9
These are some of my favorite verses, but also the hardest for me to follow. Despite a cheerful exterior (which I think God gave me to counterbalance my interior), I tend to encounter the world with a certain amount of intensity, skepticism, and fear. I’m often anxious and as I pray, rather than being thankful the Lord is near, I’m wishing there wasn’t a deep need or sorrow to pray about. I think I’m drawn to these verses because I wish I was more of a rejoicing – thankful – full of peace kind of person.
But, as the years go on, I am able to accept my personality with a little more grace and to see there are different ways to rejoice, to practice thankfulness, and live with peace.
Here is my real life example as we enter into a holiday season of thankfulness. In the past week, I’ve had a sick kid (translation: mountains of laundry and cleaning), nonstop days at work, and the usual routine of homework, dinner, baths, lunches, dishes, stories, and snuggles once I get home. Every night I’ve been so tired, but I can’t rest until there isn’t a need. Some days/weeks/months are like that. I’m anxious about the others getting sick, physically tired, getting little sleep, all while I wish I could take a day off. I want life to be easier. But here’s what happens when I release it to God: I come before Him weary and burdened – not rejoicing – and He does something deeper in me than give me happy feelings. He comforts me as I worry about my kids. He reminds me of the importance of my work. He shows me the difficulties He’s already sustained me through. He tells me He sees me and He loves me and He knows it’s hard. He gives me His nearness, His gentleness, His peace – and it truly does transcend my understanding. At times it takes much petition and prayer to receive it. I pray as you read and study this month that He guards your hearts and minds, and you feel surrounded by the love of Jesus.