Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ivory Palaces"1 (Lyrics)
Philippians 4:4-9 – 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 and sisters, 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. (NIV 2011)
We all have things every day which cause us concern or worry — from big things, like how to pay the bills — to small things, like a child who sometimes worries about going to sleep in case of bad dreams. While many of our worries can be counted as small and silly, it takes courage to deal with some of the big ones. For me, it has been battling clinical depression, which right now is on the verge of flaring up again after being under good control with the help of my physician and the support of my family, and all because of the slowdowns in employment. I know that I am not alone in this issue, as one in five Canadians will experience depression in their lives, and right now, we are in one of the hardest economic times since the Great Depression.
I was listening to CBC Radio One on my way home from work recently, and an incredible story came on about Christen Miller who recently received a heart transplant after waiting for ten years. Her story was touching and humbling, and I found myself thinking, "Who am I to worry about such little things like how I am going to pay bills and feed my family?" She talked about some of the things that had brought her through the hard times in the ten years of waiting. She said that she kept herself busy and always tried to think about the good things that were going on in her life. She had family around her, she had hope, and she took delight in the few things that she was able to do.
In today's Scripture, Paul is instructing us how to deal with our worries. He says, "Do not be anxious about anything" but rather "with thanksgiving, present your requests to God"! How easy it is to do that but then to fall back to worrying! How do we find that peace of God that guards our hearts and minds? For me, the answer became clear from listening to Christen Miller. First of all, keep busy and stay focused on God and what He asks of us, namely, "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8b NIV). Secondly, we are told to focus on the good things in our lives — whatever is "excellent or praiseworthy" (Philippians 4:8). It doesn't matter how small they might be. Last of all, we have to practice each day "casting all your care upon Him" (1 Peter 5:7a NKJV) and focusing on God's gifts to us. That is when we will know God's peace.
Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (NIV 2011)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, it can be so hard to get though the tough times in our lives. We feel moments of sorrow, helplessness, loneliness, and fatigue. Sometimes, it can feel like we are being swallowed up into the dark. Help us to see that You are the light of the world and that You are in control. You have a great plan for each of our lives. Remind us to practice casting off our worries and concerns to You in prayer with thanksgiving. Remind us to practice focusing on those things in our lives that are good, the first and foremost of those things being You. And Lord, help us when we fall down to get back up and to keep on walking with You. Amen.