Take it to The Lord in Prayer
”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7).
How many different stresses or anxieties do you carry on a daily basis? We have built the world around us into a tangled web of stresses, big and small: where to eat, what show to watch, how to get the next promotion, how to pay for large expenses like hospital bills or home repairs, why our health is declining, whether our outfit looks good – the list is endless. We all keep ourselves so busy to the point of breaking, and sadly we often go far past that. Then we try to lift our own spirits with food, drink, drugs, music, television, movies, sex, work, money, vacations, and so on. What do those things do for our stress and anxiety in the long term? The distraction often works at first, but eventually, the “joy” we got out of it fades away.
When you come off the “mountain top” of fun or relaxation and return to “normal life,” all the stresses and anxieties you have are still there. This might make you feel depressed again, viciously cycling you back into more stress and anxiety. Before you know it, the mountain top feeling is a distant memory. And what do we all do then? We go right back to the same distractions that temporarily worked before. We are all addicted to these distractions, whether we would like to admit it or not. The bigger problem is when we know that participating in these distractions is the wrong answer, but we keep going back.
In the Bible text today, the Apostle Paul tells us to REJOICE ALWAYS! Easier said than done, right? Some may even think, ‘What does Paul know about my situation in life, he wrote that about 2,000 years ago. He doesn’t know me and the struggles I go through on a daily basis!’ Well, if you think Paul was writing that letter to the Christians of Philippi while sipping a glass of wine, lounging in his favorite chair, with his favorite music playing in the background, then you’re dead wrong. Paul was under house arrest, waiting for his audience with the Roman Emperor, Nero. Up to that point, Paul had dealt with beatings, being stoned, and constant threats against his life. Why? Because he believed in Jesus Christ as his Savior. He probably knew that Nero would make him a martyr. How much more stressful and anxious could you get? And yet, Paul tells us to look away from our anxieties and look to Jesus, the only person who could ever overcome our struggles and anxieties.
How do we do that? With prayer to our Lord in EVERY situation! Paul reminds us not to pray just in the times of great stress and anxiety, but also in times of thanksgiving. God has blessed us all with varying degrees of talents and treasure. We should thank God for all those blessings, no matter how small or large they are. And when stressful and anxious times arise – and they will – present your requests to God in prayer! Jesus Christ is the only source of true JOY that we will ever experience. Christ’s death on the cross in our place and His resurrection from the dead eliminated all “need” for stress and anxiety. For when Christ took all our sins upon Himself, we were forgiven for them, for FREE! Any gift brings joy to someone, but the free gift of eternal life with our Lord and Savior is the most joyous gift you can get!
The hymn “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” is a favorite of mine and many others. The lyrics follow:
“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged – take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness – take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge – take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer. In His arms He'll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.”
When we take it to the Lord in prayer, we receive the Peace of God, which surpasses all of our understanding. The Peace of God isn’t a temporary distraction but a lasting joy. That is because God is in control of all things! He knows all of our troubles and worries. Why should we suffer the pains of life needlessly? Jesus understands us better than we could ever imagine. And even when we sin, Jesus still loves us and He still forgives us. There will never be anything else that can bring such great joy to our lives! So, REJOICE always!
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30).