Never Worry

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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV)

What a tremendous statement! Worry about nothing!

Either it is completely unrealistic, or it comes from “another world,” a source not of our world. The latter of course is the case here. It comes from God. But notice that it comes from above through a man who lived on this earth, in fact, from one (Paul) who lived in a stinking prison, a dungeon.

But isn’t it natural to worry? Who doesn’t worry?

Everybody does, Christians included, from small children to the oldest members of the church. Teenagers, young adults, parents, husbands and wives, grandparents and old people, they all worry. But the Word of God still stands, be anxious about nothing.

Worry, or anxiety, is of course quite different from concern, or assuming our responsibility. The former arises out of unbelief that does not see the guiding hand of the heavenly Father. The latter arises out of a sense of duty, using the means the Lord has given us. We have worry and anxiety regarding things beyond our control. Concern On the other hand has to do with responsibility with the things we are called upon to do.

Concern we must always have. Worry we should never have. Never? Are there no exceptions? Aren’t we apt to say, yes, but? But . . . here are no “buts” or exceptions. Worry about nothing, says Paul. The exhortation refers to all times. It makes no difference when we live, or in what circumstances we live, or what we experience, or how many problems we have. It‘s almost like a dream. Is it possible so to live? It‘s really too wonderful to be true. The very thought of such living already makes one sit back and relax.

What a tremendous truth in a world where the powers of the world are constantly engaged in a cold war of nerves. What more blessed assurance and blessings of real life could we receive regarding our future and the future of the church in this terrible age of dictatorial powers, materialism, and secularism?

Living like this is a little bit of heaven. Surely then we are filled with the Spirit, and almost on cloud nine, never worrying or being anxious!

Who doesn’t ask, how is this possible? The answer is always the same. God is the possibility.

Isn’t it always true that when we ignore Him, or pass Him by, that we find ourselves in trouble and also have all kinds of worries? And isn’t it so often true that we seek help with so many other sources except with God?! And when we do seek help from other sources we discover that other men also have burdens and are equally helpless.

In everything, by prayer and supplication or petition, let your requests be made known unto God. Tell God about your needs in prayer. Be sure to live a rich life of prayer. Just tell God. Don‘t begin to rationalize, or reason, or ask why; no, tell God about your troubles and needs. That in itself already gives relief. Doesn’t it help to unburden your soul to a friend who will listen and is interested? Here we are told to make all our needs known to our heavenly Father.

Be sure to notice, according to Paul’s words, how we should approach Cod, or how we should begin our prayers. The first thing we should do is thank Him. Thank Him when our hearts are full of worries and fears? Thank Him from the heart when the water almost reaches our lips? Yes, that’s exactly what Paul says. Here we see one of our greatest weaknesses. In times of distress the thought of gratitude for the blessings and promises received in Christ doesnt usually even enter our minds. We simply are so overwhelmed that we lose the proper perspective of God’s abundant blessings and promises.

Isn’t it too that nearly all of our prayers are petitions, give me, give me, give me, Lord? Wonder why? Because thankfulness to God does not come naturally from the old man. Selfishness is still so deeply rooted in all of us. One of the first gifts of the Holy Spirit is to say from the heart, “Thank you, Lord.”

The first question for you and me is not, did we pray today? But did we in our prayers thank Him? Thank Him as we first counted all our blessings? Thank Him for the spiritual blessings, but also the material abundance and blessings we daily receive? Thank Him for the Bible, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the promises that all things work together for good to them that love God? Thank Him for His faithfulness but also for food, clothing, homes, shelter, friends, freedom, that we can hear, talk, see, walk and receive many physical blessings?

Do this, my friends, and you will experience that this in itself will already do something for you. This by itself will already give you a certain peace of mind and calmness of soul. Therefore discipline yourself in all your prayers, that the first thing is not, give me Lord, give me Lord, but instead, Thank you Lord. . . , thank you Lord. . . . And of course the central reason for our gratitude must always be the gift of His Son, our Savior.

Then we can come with petitions. To supplicate, to petition means to beg, beseech and ask Him in our helplessness. This we must do constantly. Too often we are like the sailor who, falling from the mast of the ship, cried, “O God help me.” The next moment he found a rope to which he clung and almost subconsciously said, “Now it isnt necessary anymore, Lord.”

The sum total of it all is, thank you Father for all He has given you and always ask Him for all the things you need. Do this from the heart.

And you will have peace, says Paul. The peace of God which transcends all understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Again, isnt this just ideal language? Is it really that simple?

Remember, these afe the words of the inspired Paul. Remember also that he knew what he was talking about. Wasn’t he the man who had fears from within and struggles from without? Who suffered much, endured much, sacrificed so much for Christ’s sake?

The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ, says the text—to give us that peace which is beyond all human understanding.

The picture is that of a fort or garrison. Within the fort are the blessings of peace, calmness and tranquility. There the sheep lie beside the still waters in peace and security (Ps. 23). Outside is the world, and all that is against us worry, fear, danger, problems, anxieties, and confusion. With God there is always peace, perfect peace. This peace of God is like a guard, a power of the Spirit. This peace of God. acting like a guard, keeps us within the fort that stands in the midst of this world of worry, fear, and all evil powers. This peace of God controls our hearts and minds, protects them, so that we too have and enjoy that peace within the fort. The point is that God will so guard us in our needs and problems, when we are so apt to worry. Go to Him in prayer and first of all thank Him, and then petition Him for your needs.

God gives us wonderful promises here. Who doesnt covet such peace? How? TIlank Him, work at it so that you may do this every day, and then ask Him for your needs. No, this doesnt mean that He will always give us what we want. But He will give us what we need, and, above all, that peace that surpasses all human understanding.

Those are glorious heights of faith. I believe, Lord, but help me in my unbelief!

John Blankespoor is pastor of the Pine Creek Christian Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan.