“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7 NSRV
Tell the truth, how hard is it not to be anxious about anything? In this moment, between the existential crisis of mother earth and the politics of the day that seem to take us further from connecting to our best selves and each other as well as the continued navigation of Covid-19 and the daily responsibilities of our lives, that seems impossible. Yet that is exactly what God is asking us to do. To surrender all that makes us anxious, and everything else, to the Merciful One in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.
As I contemplate this first sentence, I keep coming back to my surprise of the direction “with thanksgiving.” Why is that included? For me, it speaks of a trust that God will hear and answer my (our) prayers and supplications because God has already done so and will continue to do so without fail. With thanksgiving is our expression of the gratitude of what has already come and what will come to pass.
I also find comfort that Paul wrote this when under house arrest. He didn’t write it at a moment of ease, but of great distress. This context gives credence to the next line of what happens when we turn it all over to the Great Spirit of us all. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Can you imagine what would change in our lives if we lived into this invitation? What would happen if we did it just for a day? Would our words be kinder? Would our hearts be more open to the joy and suffering of our neighbor, this world? Would we enjoy the meals with loved ones more fully? Would we experience God’s peace more deeply in our hearts? May we find the courage to try and discover.
Dr. Cathy Collins