I have heard the saying that you are either “Going through a storm, about to enter a storm, or just getting out of a storm”. I think there is truth to this saying! Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and the unexpected. Since last Fall 2015 our family has been hit with storm after storm on many levels. The last 8-9 months have been some of the most challenging, stressful, and unsure times for our family. And…we are still going through it! We are in the thick of it right now, and we can not see how everything will work out. During the midst of these struggles, we have heavily relied on God to see us through and to strengthen us to put one foot in front of the other. Some days have been excruciatingly tough! Other days, we feel renewed with strength and hope. These circumstances have challenged our faith and trust in God, and have caused us to look deep inside our hearts and see how God wants to heal, restore, and renew. Since entering this stormy time, I have come to the realization that God doesn’t want to take away all of my problems (even though that’s what I wanted!). That actually won’t solve anything for me! What He wants to do, is to bring wholeness to me and healing, which will ultimately bring about a deeper relationship with Him.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Philippians 4:4-8 (NASB)
These verses have always been very familiar to me. They were some of the first that I memorized and heard frequently at church or Bible studies. Until recently, I don’t think I truly applied the principles that are in this passage. When you are so familiar with something, sometimes you don’t listen to what the passage is really saying. You may rattle it off from memory and miss the richness of the scripture. A little less than a year ago, I started meditating on Philippians 4 and reflecting on the truths and wisdom that are found in this passage. In stages I began implementing what these verses are saying.
- “Be anxious for nothing”…really? For nothing? I questioned this and rationalized that it couldn’t possibly include everything that I was experiencing. But then I came to an understanding that yes, it really does mean to be anxious for nothing. What does worry do for me? Nothing at all. It just makes things worse. (See Matthew 6:34, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.“) This has been the most challenging for me since my go to mindset for years has been to worry, fret, and try to solve everything on my own!
- “but in everything by prayer and supplication”… God doesn’t expect us to just deal issues that arise all on our own. He wants us to come before Him in prayer and supplication (a humble petition), with thanksgiving, and make our requests known to Him. God is sovereign and knows all things. So does God really need us to tell Him what’s going on with us? No, but He wants us to come before Him and be in relationship with Him. In our coming to Him with prayer and humble petition, our relationship with God will be strengthened, our reliance on Him deepened, and our faith increased. I have been experiencing this lately, and seen my reliance on Him bring about a very interesting result in the midst of a huge storm: peace.
- “With thanksgiving”…even when I don’t see how I can be thankful for this tough situation? Yes, with thanksgiving. I questioned what could I possibly be thankful for when everything is going wrong? But looking deep into an issue and reflecting on all that surrounds a circumstance, the Lord can still bring us to a place of thanksgiving. I put this into practice by realizing how thankful I am, despite the tough time I am going through, because my faith is strengthened, my hope is secured, and my reliance on God is deepened. This is definitely a process! Some days it is easier to be thankful than other days. What I realize I am most thankful for, is the opportunity to see God do great things in our lives, and for Him to get all of the glory! I am thankful that He cares for my family and me, and that He never leaves us nor forsakes us. (Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.“)
- “And the Peace of God”…what is peace? Peace is defined as “to be complete” or “to be sound”. God is the ultimate source of Peace. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” This verse is so encouraging! It discusses the fact that the world can not give the type of peace that God can give. It is only through Christ that we can experience this type of peace.
- “surpasses all comprehension (understanding)”…I had an epiphany about this concept about a week ago. I realized that I was experiencing real peace, not as the world gives, but only as Christ can give! This seemed so opposite of the way I should be feeling considering all of the circumstances swirling around me. This peace that I was experiencing was an incredible blessing to me. I have experienced peace before, but this is a new level of experiencing peace for me during one of the most trying times of my life. To experience this peace in the midst of the storm gave me so much hope and assurance knowing that God almighty is listening to me, hearing me, and giving me peace. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was also experiencing this peace and started sharing with me what he was experiencing during this trial. Our hearts were touched knowing that God is in the midst of both of us, helping us through this time, strengthening us and filling us with His peace.
Philippians 4 is a great passage filled with incredible truths and hope! It has been encouraging for me during these trying times that I am still going through. I can’t see the end result, but I know that God will see us through this time.
My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.