Do not be anxious, but rejoice always, is today’s theme.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Do not be anxious but rejoice always was the main verse for our sermon this Sunday. Our guest speaker, a member of our congregation who is a very gifted speaker, spoke on the topic of anxiety, and how it is not something we as Christians should succumb to. Easier said then done… was my immediate response, for I had known times of anxiety in my life, despite my best efforts not to worry.
Easier Said than Done.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, admonishes them to rejoice always, no matter the circumstances, and to guard our hearts against anxiety. Again, my response was… easier said than done. What I came to realize as the sermon went on, was that it is what we do with our worries that is at the crux of being able to rejoice always. We must surrender them to God, and let go.
I am a Fixer.
Generally, I think the “fixer trait” is associated with men, for they always seem to want to fix whatever is wrong or broken. My husband always feels he has to fix whatever issue I am telling him about, rather than just listening. But, I must admit that at heart, I am a fixer too. If my daughters tell me about their problems, I listen, but inside my brain is working overtime, trying to find suggestions on how to fix things. Sometimes I share and sometimes I don’t. I suppose that makes me different from my husband.
Under my own strength.
But what this means is that I have in the past tried to fix things under my own strength and in the process became anxious and worried. Both entirely self-defeating exercises. For in my fretting, I failed to look around me, to see God’s hand at work. I failed to see his provision and protection. Had I done that, I would have been able to rejoice even in the midst of difficulty, terror or just while overwhelmed.
God’s provision and protection surround us.
I will never forget the day when we got a call that our 8-day-old granddaughter stopped breathing. While her father tried to resuscitate her, our daughter ran next door, where their friends lived. He was a paramedic. They had been over for dinner that evening. He ran in his stocking feet, in December, back to the house, and proceeded to resuscitate our granddaughter, while the ambulance was on its way. This meant our darling little angel received the care and treatment she needed immediately and not the 5 minutes it took the ambulance to get there.
Continuous prayer, but no peace.
As we drove to the hospital, all I could do was cry and pray. While at the hospital, I continued to cry and pray, and wondered why this was happening. I didn’t blame God, but I must admit, I was questioning, but continued to pray, as did every member of our family who gathered there. It took hours for the doctors to examine her, to do a spinal tap for they suspected meningitis. We could hear her cries but were helpless to do little else than pray.
What I should have done, once I prayed for healing of our granddaughter, for the doctors and nurses, for strength for our daughter and son-in-law, I should have praised God for all His provision and protection. I should have fully surrendered to God’s will and trusted Him. Maybe then I would have had some peace, a peace that can only come from God when we are fully surrendered to Him.
Just think about this; the next-door neighbours were friends, and he was a paramedic! How many of us have a paramedic living next door to us? Plus, he was home and not working! He knew exactly what to do, as our baby stopped breathing, repeatedly. He was there to explain to the attending paramedics exactly what was happening, with no need for further assessment. Just quick action and transport to the Children’s Hospital, a good twenty minutes away in a speeding ambulance. So many things had happened by God’s sustaining grace and provision that I should have seen and praised God for, right there and then. He was there. He was protecting and providing! I was blind and did not see, because my fear, anxiety, and worry blinded me.
I didn’t see God’s work until much later. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t that what they say? Our darling baby was fine. The doctors found she had an underdeveloped valve; the one that controls airflow to the lungs, or allows one to swallow, preventing food from going to the lungs and directing it to the stomach. A valuable design feature of our magnificent creator God. Within a few months, the valve was fully developed, and she is now a happy and rambunctious four-year-old.
What I learned, however, was that God is always with us, always providing and always protecting us. His will is perfect, no matter the outcome. God works the best for those who love him. However, we do not have his perfect vision or knowledge, and mistake, or misunderstand difficulties, storms of life or the troubles we face. We blame him. Asking, why us?
Why not us?
We live in a sinful world, that we have little control over. Satan is the one in control, but he is not all-powerful. God, who is all-powerful, has full access to us if we but ask for his help. As Christians, we have been given the Holy Spirit to act as our guide, counsellor, wisdom, strength and whatever else we may need. He is the still voice directing us if we only yield ourselves and listen. We are never alone.
Do not be anxious, but rejoice always.
Yes, it is possible to not be anxious and rejoice under all circumstances. But only once we fully surrender our will to God’s and open our eyes to see all that is going on around us.
Plus, remember, you are being watched by those around you. Your actions and reactions as a Christian should speak to your faith, and to the power of your God. So, rejoice always and especially when you don’t feel like it. Remember, you are a LIGHT in a world of darkness. Let your LIGHT shine!
If you are interested, you can read a fictional story about a young woman, Emma, who had difficulty yielding to God’s will for her life. Check out my books: the Children of Light series.