Tonight's entry is again by Doug White, a college friend from Harding University and now a pharmacist in Louisiana. Doug is a Biblical scholar and edits a great bulletin for his congregation. Prayers for me in Vietnam!
In a familiar passage found in Philippians 4, God tells us through Paul, not to worry.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This not a suggestion, it is a command. But, as is often the case, easier said than done. In my experience there seems to be three ways to handle this passage, (whether people are aware of its existence, or not)
First, are the hand wringers, the worry warts. They worry about virtually everything, and if there is nothing going wrong in their life at the moment they seem to make up something to worry about. Or, they'll even worry about something in your life for you!
Everything's a problem, everything's a crisis. I have a good golfing buddy who we tease about this all of the time.
Everytime we are discussing a project, an adventure, a trip, etc. he'll start his conversation with this statement, "Well, the problem with that is..........." Well, I agree with you BUT, the problem is................"
We could say to him, "Here's a million bucks, just for you." And, I promise, he would reply like this, "Well, I appreciate that, but I'm worried that the problem will be................."
This passage is speaking to these people as they are doing exactly the opposite of what God is commanding.
The second group of people that I have observed deal with this passage, exactly 180* opposite from the first group. They worry about nothing, absolutely nothing concerns them. "Don't know, don't care, whatever will be will be." Que sera sera.
There is a story, maybe familiar to some of you, that llustrates this category of people perfectly.
An area of the country was suffering severe flooding. Rivers coming out of their banks, towns being inundated with water.
Even after evacuation orders were given, one man refused to leave his home. A police boat came by and saw the man on his porch roof, trying to escape the flood. "Get in the boat, man!"
He replied, "No thanks, officers, God is going to take care of me." And off they went.
Hours later another police boat came by and saw him up on the roof of his house. "Sir, get in the boat, you're going to drown!"
"No thank you officers, God is going to take care of me." (Que sera sera).
At nightfall, a police helicopter hovered over the man's house as he was up on the very top ridge of his roof, with his shoes dangling in the flood waters. "Sir, grab onto the rope and let us pull you up!"
"No thank you officers," he shouted, "God is going to save me!"
The waters continued to rise and shortly thereafter the man slipped off of his house and drowned. He met Peter at Heaven's pearly gate and after they exchanged pleasantries the man had a comment for Peter.
"Peter, I'm confused, I'm glad I'm here and all, but, after trying to follow the Lord all of my life, doing the best I could, WHY did you let me drown?"
Peter replied, "Let you drown?? Man, we sent you two boats and a helicopter!"
So, that's the first two groups that I have observed and they are both wrong. Polar opposites, but wrong.
The third group, the ones that honor the passage for it's meaning, know what it means. First of all, they are big believers in, and users of, prayer.
The passage says to pray about what? All of the Big things, the very, very important matters? Yes, and all of the Little things as well. but in everything, which means......................everything.
Some people act like they're bothering God when they pray about some 'inconsequential' thing such as "Lord, please help me find my glasses" (They're on your head, My child). But, He has commanded us to pray, He WANTS us to pray (all the time 1 Thes 5:17).
And along with our prayers, He wants and supplication.
A supplication is a petition, or a request. "Oh, I couldn't ask God for that! It's not that important." That's NOT what He said. He said...............petition Me, give Me your requests, and I'll decide what's important or not!"
And, do all of this how? "With thanksgiving." Really? How do we bring our 'worries, problems, what's bothering us to God' with thanksgiving?
Well, you thank God for all of the times He has rescued you in the past, delivered you, and you thank Him for the future deliverance of your current problem which you Know, by faith, that He is going to bring.
You see, unlike our man in the flood and Alfred E. Neuman above, we Are to be aware of our problems, our 'issues' if you will, and deal with them.
But, there is a great difference between 'worry' and 'concern.' We are to address our problems, what is bothering us, use wisdom (from God that we ask Him for) to deal with them, and prayer, as He commands us, to resolve them.
We are Not to sweep them under the rug and ignore them and we are Not to allow them to consume us and destroy us.
Was Jesus 'concerned' about the Cross? Yes.
Was Jesus upset at the death of Lazarus and the downfall of Jerusalem and the thought of the Cross? Yes, He cried!
Did He act to resolved the issue of the money changers in the temple or did He just stand out front and wring His hands and say, "I don't know what to do, I sure am worried about this, Somebody's got to do something." Yes. He acted. He took care of it!
Philippians 4 tells us how to deal with our worries and cares. Admittedly, it's not easy, it's not for the babe in Christ, it's for the more mature Christian who has experienced deliverance from God and had their faith grow, through experience.
Be concerned? Yes
And one other footnote. What happens when you do verse 6?
You get verse 7. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts .
You don't get verse 7 without first accomplishing verse 6.
What a deal!
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