4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
The apostle Paul’s statement that God’s peace “exceeds all understanding” may make more sense when we realize that he sent this letter from a dank, dreary Roman prison cell (cf. Philippians 1:12-14). Even there, he had God’s peace. He was an example of what great coach Lou Holtz said: “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”* And Paul shared a key he’d found for living in God’s peace: to give anything that might worry him to God in prayer.
- Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things. The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. It is independent of outward circumstances.”** What things most often trigger anxiety in you? How can you incorporate Paul’s wisdom about taking those things to God in prayer more fully into your daily life?
- Paul linked our ability to live in God’s peace with the mental “diet” we choose. He advised Christians to focus on what is “excellent,” “admirable,” “true,” “holy,” “just,” “pure,” “lovely,” and “worthy of praise” (verse 8). How easy or hard do you find it to focus your thoughts on those qualities with reality TV, insulting Twitter feuds and programs about murder and mayhem seemingly all over the place? How could Paul’s wisdom become a key helping you live out God’s gift of a peace that exceeds all understanding?
Lord God, when I feel anxious, or angry, or despairing, grant me your peace. Grow in me the spirit of Julian of Norwich, who wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Amen.
* Quote found at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/lou_holtz.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John—Volume 2, Chapters 8–21, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 171.
Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.