The current crisis caught us all off guard. For the majority of people in our country, the spread of COVID19 has led to sweeping changes in our daily routines at home and outside our homes. Churches haven’t met, people are working remotely where possible, restaurants have closed their dining areas and the list goes on. And the details of how and when things will return to normal still aren’t clear.
As a result, anxieties and fears are heightened. Concerns about health, financial stability, and job security have become overwhelming and understandably so. Thankfully, God’s Word speaks to us right where we are. There is a way for us to experience God-given peace and security despite the current challenges we are facing.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians 4:5-7:
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 minds in Christ Jesus.
I’m glad Paul didn’t say, “There’s nothing to be anxious about” and simply dismiss their concerns. He didn’t deny the reality of anxiety-inducing situations like the ones we are facing. But he does say not to be anxious. And he goes on to explain that God can actually guard our hearts and minds and shield them from being assaulted by anxieties.
How? How will God protect you and me from being preoccupied with fear and paralyzed by anxiety? Paul points to a direct link between peace and prayer. This kind of God-given peace doesn’t come from simply talking to ourselves or reassuring ourselves things will be okay. Yes, we rehearse God’s promises to ourselves. But we must also speak to the God who made the promises. The peace of God comes as we unburden our hearts in prayer to the God of peace.
Prayer isn’t magical and it doesn’t necessarily produce immediate relief. But as we continue in prayer, habitually speaking to God about our anxieties and thanking him for his presence and goodness, He sets our hearts and minds at ease. The outer conflict may not go away, and the trial probably won’t come to a screeching halt, but an internal peace that doesn’t correspond to our circumstances will begin to dawn.
You’ve seen it, whether in someone else’s life or your own. Believers experience a peace in the midst of trials that just doesn’t make sense at times. It truly surpasses our understanding. From all appearances we should be panicked or alarmed, but there’s a quiet confidence and assurance that God is with us and for us in the hard places. We could multiply examples of this kind of peace: an unfavorable diagnosis is received, a job is lost unexpectedly, financial resources are depleted…yet there is a God-given peace at the deepest level.
Isn’t that what you long-fore? The good news is that this peace is for you, believer. Whatever anxieties or fears you may be experiencing, the God of peace can and will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Please don’t let worry rob you any longer, but take the first step and simply talk to God. Unburden your heart to him, thank him for making peace with you through the cross of Christ, and trust him to give you peace in the midst of your trials. Then talk to a friend, someone who will pray with you and for you as you seek to entrust yourself and your circumstances to the God of peace.