"LET NOTHING be worrying you, but in every prayer and petition let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving, and the peace of God, being superior to every mental state, shall garrison your hearts and your apprehensions in Christ Jesus"
There is an elixir of life in words like these. Touching life at all points, they embrace every experience, and affect every problem. How positive they are, how emphatic! There is no room left for intrusive doubt or query. The words are just an exquisite echo of the Psalmist's thought--fret not thyself!
How finely inclusive, too, the injunction is! Let nothing be worrying you. Not a single thing. But can we realize it? Is it possible to live up to such a counsel of perfection? A thousand times, yes! And for the great reason that the rare paragraph enshrines a God-given assurance. There is a promise, a pledge of a superior peace--the peace of God, set for the keeping, the steadying of our hearts in Christ Jesus.
What an expression of God's solicitude! And for all to make true in the circumstances of life. How true, rests with the quality of our reliance upon God. In how far we leave things to Him, for His working out. And His appointment is never a disappointment. Therefore, on no account are we to worry. It does no good, changes nothing, nor ever gives us back the thing we prized. It enfeebles and wastes our strength, keeps the brain excited, the blood feverish, and the heart beating wildly, with nerves quivering.
If, then, we must not worry, and there are things in life calculated to make us anxious, how may we displace worry? By taking God into our confidence as we voice immediate needs. "Let your requests be made known to God, with thanksgiving." Note the proviso--with thanksgiving, which in itself affects the burdened mind. Indeed, thankfulness for the simple things of life, the ordinary, forgettable things, means much.
The tragic indictment of the ancient world was that, "knowing God, they do not glorify or thank Him as God." Stars in the heaven are thanked, and saints in the calendar, but not God. May we be giving thanks always, for all things, to God. So many occasions call for it, and a voiced acknowledgment deepens our consciousness of His daily care.
No aspect or department of life is outside the interest of God, our Father. He is at all times an interested listener. Our requests, therefore, may be unreservedly made known. Let them flow forth, without any concern as to how they will be met. That rests with God's will and wisdom. Seeing all the intricacies of life, He appoints in accord with them. Has He not ordered them, both good and ill?
There are some things in life God would not have us change! And happy are we, if, in the acceptance of them, we see the Father's own rare ordering. So let us live, in the spirit of a line from a hymn: "I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me." It suffices that we make our requests known to God, and leave them with Him. This done, with thanksgiving, there will come to heart and mind, God's own wonderful peace.
"And the peace of God, being superior to every mental state, shall garrison your hearts and your apprehensions in Christ Jesus." Here, in a peace which surpasses all power of thought, lies the strength and joy of Paul's counsel of perfection. It is the peace of God, in contrast with, and superior to, all human counsel, palliative, or panacea.
Gift of the God of peace, it is the only calm in a world of unrest. But how, in texture and quality, this peace differs from that which the world dispenses! The word, in the public press, meets the eye at every turn. Yet how little it conveys, how far short it falls, of all that such a word should stand for! Does it not look lost, as a wandering star from its orbit?
Only as linked with God and His ministering grace, does the word hold real comfort and consolation. In such union it has vital power, confirming its frequent and heartening occurrence in the calm of a rich content. The peace of God. Grace and peace. Yes, yes. In spite of all around, and the tangle of daily events. For our hearts shall be as a citadel, gloriously kept. "The Lord is thy Keeper."
What a glad secret of life! One that Christ Himself exemplified. He did not worry or show impatient fret. He trusted, He rested supremely in God. He gave Himself completely over to God. He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup be passing by from Me. Moreover, not as I will, but as Thou!" A second time He prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass by from Me except I should be drinking it, let Thy will be done!" (Matt.26:39,42).
How sublime an example of utter submission to God's will! There has been but One, and there will never be another so altogether acquiescent to the Father's will. The purpose, will, and majesty of God, the Father, was everything to Him. How much so we have yet to see. In the meanwhile, let us hold by this superior peace. It is resident in Him. He is our peace, and He is on the throne, even of the universe.
Therefore, "let nothing be worrying you." Rather, "let your requests be made known to God, with thanksgiving." In these two statements we have first a prohibition, then an injunction. Is it not that prayer should be the death of care? It follows, however, that the source or cause of worry should not be self-made. It should be that imposed on us, and not something fashioned by ourselves which we persist in carrying. That we must throw away. Life, to be happily lived, must have in all its parts a felt consciousness of God. At all times there should be a sense of God's ruling. For, not only is God operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His will, but Christ is carrying it on by His powerful declaration. What control is here, and how complete!
Just to feel that we are entirely in God's hands, flung upon His care and control, is to know a peace inviolate. What small resemblance to the faith of Christ our faltering trust displays. Self looms so largely with us, and thus disquietude. Not so with our Lord. He displayed the dignity of complete assurance. Rejecting His disquietude, He puts in its place the thought of the majesty and power of God the Father.
Let us learn of Him to be quiescent in the Father's will. Let us be disposed to that which is above. Even where Christ is enthroned at God's right hand. Then shall we know the peace of God, and how superior it is to every mental state. And the God of peace shall be with you, in every moment, every hour.
"Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace."