As I am writing this, there is a widespread concern about the Coronavirus. We should take precautions and be thoughtful about danger. At the same time, there is now a secondary epidemic of talk and worry about the virus. At a time like this it is important to reflect on how to live through a crisis, whether it is in your business, your family, or the community at large. In Philippians 4:4-7, the apostle Paul said:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I see four keys in this paragraph that can help us in a crisis:
First, we are to rejoice always. Before we dismiss that as ridiculous, realize that the author of this letter was in prison at the time he wrote this. A crisis should not steal our joy. Now the only way that is possible is that we know the most important things in our life are secure. This kind of confident rejoicing comes from knowing that our life is bound up with the indestructible life of Jesus (Colossians 3:3, Heb 7:16).
Second, we are to be reasonable. People stop thinking rationally in a crisis. They do things they never would if they were thinking clearly. It is interesting this word “reasonableness” can also be translated “gentleness”. Fear makes us forget basic human kindness and tenderness. Paul encourages us to “let your reasonableness be evident to all (4:5)”. The reason given for our gentle and reasonable attitude is because we know God is near (4:5) and will do what is right in all circumstances.
Third, we are to make our requests to God. Anxiety can be overpowering, whether it is general or very specific. The faithful response in crisis is not resignation, but to take our requests to God in prayer, who is able to help. Nothing is beyond God’s control, and He loves us. If we believe in and follow Jesus, we can be confident that He will take care of the dangers and unpredictable situations that are beyond us.
Finally, we should rest in that confident state. The ability to do that is a supernatural gift of God. As we give our anxieties to God, He gives us peace. This goes beyond the “reasonableness” of verse 5—It is a peace that passes understanding and will guard our heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
If we can practice a rhythm of life that incorporates these steps, then perhaps as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “We will keep our heads, when men all about us are losing theirs.” It is possible—but it must be in Christ Jesus. He is the author of our peace and the protector of all the solid, eternal joys that enable us to deal reasonably with the challenges we face. Jesus is the same, “Yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).