We are facing one of the toughest times, keeping ourselves isolated while we are hearing about all the dangers of the fast spread of COVID-19 from the news, social media, and back to back phone calls from our loved ones. During these trying times, our default tendency is to worry a lot for our safety — our level of stress going up and panicking behaviors acting up.
Today, the Bible reminds us of ways to overcome this anxiety. We’ll look in Philippians Chapter 4, verses four to seven and we’ll talk about the three steps to overcome anxiety in these trying times.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB)
Step 1: Rejoice!
Verse 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”. Hey Paul, something’s wrong with you. There’s a global pandemic and you’re saying “Rejoice!”? This must be the same response which Apostle Paul received from his readers back then… He is in prison, literally isolated and in a not so ideal situation. How come he’s telling free people to rejoice?
When circumstances come, the very first thing that the enemy steals from us is our joy. This is why you are worried, sad, and gloomy. It leads us to show defeated behaviors even before the battle begins. Every athlete knows that having a winning mindset from the very beginning is important to keep one fighting. That is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. We can rejoice because we know that we are not alone in this battle and that He is in control. It’s through learning to surrender the worries we have that we are able to celebrate the presence of our Savior in the tough times. As said in one of my favorite verses “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).
Step 2: Practice Gentleness
In verse 5, we are being reminded to let our gentle spirit be known to all men. This means to exercise one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which is gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23).
Our reactive behaviors can be easily triggered when our joy is taken away from us. It’s easy to get mad, complain, and exhibit violent behaviors. This reminder is a call for us to let our Christian identity be evident even in times of trial. The beatitudes (Matthew 5:5) further tells us “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”. So try as much as possible to stay in the 3 Cs – Cool, Calm, and Composed. Let not a tough situation ruin more relationships – this refers to our vertical relationships with our loved ones.
If you would further notice, the later part of verse 5 says, “The Lord is near”. This gives us as a sense of hope and reassurance that the situation is temporary and our help is at hand.
Step 3: Pray
The last step is to pray. Verse 6 explicitly says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. Through prayer, we declare the vertical relationship we have with the Lord and we acknowledge his capacity to act on our situation. While verse 5 affirms our Christian character, verse 6 affirms the character of our loving God – being our ultimate source of comfort, security, and provision.
Notice, Paul stresses that supplication has to be done with thanksgiving. Why is that important? Well, gratitude establishes our trust to God while we are being taught to be humble rather than demanding as we seek peace. It brings us back to gentleness and reminds us that our Lord is good and able.
After the 3 Steps, The Reward
If we are able to exercise these three steps, we’ll earn the reward promised in verse 7 – “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God is the greatest reward we can get during trying times. It gives us the sense of security that we are looking for and the assurance of help to come. Infact, Christ himself promised peace in John 14:27!
When we face trials, the enemy attacks our mind right-away causing anxiety and this is the reason why the Lord wants to address our minds and understanding first. Other translations use understanding in place of comprehension to clearly point out that the Lord wants to address our mindset and thought process. If anxiety attacks the mind, God’s peace restores the mind first as well. He fixes our way of thinking, and after this, we’ll receive protection in our hearts which impact our emotions and our mind impacting the decisions and attitude towards the situation.
In this tough times, my prayer is for us to receive the Lord’s peace as we go through the process. May the Lord use the our gifts, our leaders, and medical practitioners to as we approach the victory that is set before us. God bless us all!
Featured Photo Credits: Justine Castillo.