Peace beyond Understanding
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Worry operates like a weed in the soul. If not tackled quickly, it puts down deep roots and sucks the joy out of the rest of your life. Unchecked worry grows into anxiety and blossoms into despair. Paul knows this, and so he encourages the Philippians to develop a ‘prayer-reflex’, so that their first response on feeling the stomach churn with worry is to pray about it.
This is not just wishful thinking from the Apostle. He is writing from prison, most likely in Rome. He is aware that he may well face death, and in fact he will soon be martyred. In the light of all this, it is encouraging to see how unconcerned he is. He tells his readers in Philippi “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”(1:21). He is delighted that all the Imperial Guard has now heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and although he is grateful that others are worried about him he is keen that they know: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (4:11).
What is the secret of this remarkable calm in the face of death? “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. When we place our present, and our future, in the hands of Almighty God we can lie content that we are in safe hands indeed. There is not issue, however large or small, which is beyond the scope of God. This knowledge brings a peace “which is beyond all understanding”. It is a divine peace, and not an earthly one.
So do not be anxious. Rather, develop your prayer-reflex and swiftly place your concerns in the hands of God. And then leave them there.