"Rejoice in the Lord always,
I will say it again, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Don't be anxious about anything,
by Prayer and Petition
present your requests to God.
And the Peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds
in Christ Jesus." Phil: 4:4-7
I will be the first to admit that it is very difficult to thank God and to rejoice when I am going through a trial. I am more likely to feel angry, sad, afraid; certainly not joyful. It may bug some of you that I piece apart the Bible verse like I do, but I have found that by reading it this way, I don't miss what's important.
What is God saying here? Rejoice! Yep, it's there twice, so it must be important.
Take a deep breath and be calm and gentle. Remember that God is near, He is with you.
Don't be anxious- about anything, Pray about it, tell Him how your feeling. If you're mad, shout. If you're sad, let it out. If you're worried, tell Him about it. I grew up thinking that prayer had to be all pious with certain words in order to "work". Now that I've realized that God made me with all these emotions, and He already knows what I"m thinking, I just bring it! He made me passionate, and I feel things very deeply, so I often shout at God, I get mad, I rant, I cry, I beg... I let it all out! (Apologies to my neighbors who may share this experience.)
Then, after it's all out there, I thank Him.
I thank Him because He is a God who cares. I thank Him that I can lay all of these things at His feet now. I thank Him that He is in control, and I don't have to be. I thank Him that He has never let me down! Every other time I thought the world was ending, guess what? It didn't!
I am still alive, the world did not end, and that storm passed. God may not have solved the problem the way I wanted, or in my timeline, but He always, always, always takes care of me. This is where the part about transcending all understanding comes in. When I ask Him to handle it, He fills me with Peace. When I truly surrender my cares to Him, and let them go, I am filled with Peace. I trust that He's got this. I trust that He will do what's best. I trust that He has a plan. Here's the hard part- I don't have to see the playbook. I don't have to know how, when, or where. I need to get in the backseat, shut up and let God drive.
Is there always a happy ending? Absolutely not! Bad things happen. People die, there are terrible diseases, relationships end, and the list goes on and on. God never says it will be easy. What He says is that He will always be with us. He will provide for us. He will give us Peace. He says He works all things for our Good. We often won't understand, and that's okay. Someday it will all make sense.
God says He will guard our hearts and minds. I'm grateful for that, because my heart is where I hold all my hurt. All my failures, all my rejections, all the times my heart has been broken, when things didn't work, when I lost someone. My mind is where I hold all my fear. I think of all the worst case scenarios, I rationalize, I scrutinize, I intellectualize. God wants me to lay those things down, and be filled with Peace.
I am still here, and the world has not ended. I don't know what He has planned, but I trust that He is in charge. He sees the whole picture, I only see a small part. Gratitude and Praise come in when I think of all the times He has been there, all the times I was afraid and He went before me. All the times I've been hurt or sick, and He has healed me. All the times...
The list goes on and on. When I start listing them, all those times, it's like Peace washes over me. I know that He has never left me before, and He will not leave me now.
Go back and read that verse again, and you'll notice three things. God wants us to ask Him for what we need. He wants us to remember all the times He has helped us before and to Thank Him for that. Finally, He wants us to trust Him, that He is GOD, that He has a purpose and a plan. In return, He wants to fill us with Peace.