Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Amen.
(Common English Bible)
Have you ever been anxious about something? For the last couple of weeks, as my family has been dealing with the crisis of injury and the loss of a close friend, I have had some anxiety. Sometimes we feel anxious, and we may not even know why. Most of my anxiety usually surrounds situations involving my close friends and family.
No matter how much I try to control it, sometimes anxiety just gets the better of me. I can't stop thinking about or even worrying about a child, friend or family member, especially in the middle of a crisis.
I can try to focus on good things, and even on God, but sometimes my mind wanders and before you know it, I'm consumed in anxiety and worry. Anxiety finds its way into our lives. We are afraid, and we grow anxious before we even realize that it's happening.
The Apostle Paul's words to the church at Philippi are words that we need to hear often: Don't be anxious, but bring all your requests to God when you pray, remembering to give thanks for the blessings in your life.
Then God's peace, which we cannot understand, will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Focus your thoughts on the pure, true, holy, just and lovely things, rather than on the problems. And give praise for all of those things.
Paul reminds us to give thanks for the blessings in our lives because when we remember all that God has done, we remember that God is faithful and will see us through any situation that we may face.
That builds our faith in God, and our trust in the Lord will make our worries diminish. We trust the Lord because he is "God with us" - God in the midst of our troubles seeing us through, and giving us peace when we pray.
In another letter, Paul reminds the reader to pray without ceasing. When we pray continually about the situations we face, God walks with us in very recognizable ways, giving us peace, and taking away our worry and anxiety.
For what in your life do you need God's peace today? Will you follow Paul's instructions and trust God to walk with you?
Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.