The past few weeks we’ve been working on an experiment. I’ve been sharing some devotional thoughts on anxiety. If you want to check out the past three weeks go here, here, and here. I’d love your feedback on the content. Let me know what you think.
1-2 Minutes of Silence
Read Philippians 4: 4-5. If you have time, try reading the entire chapter. It will only take you 5 minutes. But by reading the entire chapter you get the context that these two verses are housed in. As you reflect on the context then focus only on these two verses. Read them slowly, let them wash over you, envelop you. Read them until you get a sense that God is with you where you are reading this.
Happiness vs. Joy
When Paul is writing to the Philippians, he’s rotting in a jail cell. As Paul writes, he knows that the church will experience social rejection and persecution. They will experience unjust imprisonments, torture from being burned alive, torn apart by wild animals for entertainment, and enslavement. What makes all this even worse is that his audience already struggles to make ends meet, paying the bills, enough food, enough clothes and in constant political turmoil.
Fear and anxiety was constant in the ancient world, and Paul himself, as he writes knows that any day now, an executioner will come to take his life. With all of this in Paul’s mind, he writes these strange words to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul makes a distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on your happenings, what is going on in your day. But Joy is rooted and connected to the FACT that Jesus holds you and is walking with you. Joy is a spiritual buoyancy in a sea of uncertainty. Meaning that even though we don’t know what will happen around us, we don’t have to let those circumstances and situations take away our peace. The reason for this Joy is found in vs. 5, “The Lord is Near.”
When we struggle with anxiety, we can remember that Jesus is near. He is with us and walks with us in times where we feel great anxiety and fear. Nothing can separate us from God’s love and mercy. Nothing in our situations and circumstances can keep us from the loving hand of God. That is why we need to remember what God has done for us in the past as we move into the future.
An Attitude of Gratitude
When we forget about all God has done for us we become anxious. And when we are anxious we start to focus on all the ways we are struggling, in all the ways that we are out of our control. Paul is reminding the church that they can express gratitude in all circumstances because God is faithful. God may not spare you from trouble, but He can spare you from anxiety ruling you. When you cultivate Gratitude we experience God’s peace.
Spiritual amnesia is part of our spiritual condition. Which is why we need to stop, and take time to remember how God came through for us in the past, and how He wants to come through for us in the future.
What are three things that I am grateful for today? For the next 7 days, write down 3 things you are grateful for everyday. Check out this post for further reflection.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”– Brene Brown
Finish with Silence
1-2 Minutes of Silence. As you pause to listen to the voice of God, allow Him to cement into your heart what He wants you to learn and grow.