The apostle Paul wrote some challenging words to the Philippian believers, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice (4:4)!” The message was so important, Paul repeated it for their hearing-“Rejoice, and again I say rejoice!” This is one of those verses that is much easier to read than to practice. How do you rejoice in the Lord when times are tough? How do you rejoice always? Could Paul possibly mean that we are supposed to plaster a smile on our faces, no matter what comes our way?
He goes on in verse 6 to command us not to be anxious for anything. What? Be anxious for nothing? Not anxious for how I’m going to make ends meet? Not anxious about the sickness I face? Not anxious about my job situation? Not anxious about my family relationships that have gone bad? How on earth can we face difficulties like these anxiety-free and with rejoicing?
The answer comes in Philippians 4:6b-7. Instead of entertaining anxious feelings, Paul says we should, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (v6b).” How do you make it through difficult times? Present your requests to God. Pray. It’s like the old hymn says, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!” Prayer keeps us focused not on our problems but on our God, who is much bigger than any problem we face. If we pray instead of panic, the word of God assures us that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (v.7).” Peace in the midst of your trouble. God’s peace. What could be better? God’s peace comforts us in ways that we can’t explain. We can face incredible obstacles when we have the inner confidence of knowing that Jesus is guarding our hearts and our minds.
So, this is a great season for Thanksgiving! Remember v. 6b, “…with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” In our praying, we petition God in an attitude of thankfulness for what He has already done…and for what we believe He will do! I try never to ask God for anything without thanking Him for something first.
Let’s have a great season of thanksgiving! We have so much to thank God for, if we start focusing on those things, I am convinced that some of our problems would simply evaporate in the radiance of our praise!