Philippians 4:4-7 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In the late 80s there was a popular song. The guy started out whistling something; then he started to sing. Do you remember what that song was? "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Yeah, Bobby McFerrin. "Don't Worry, Be Happy." The words went something like this: "In every life you have some trouble, when you worry you make it double. Don't worry, be happy."
Well, that sounds a little bit like what Paul is talking about, right? He gives similar advice when he says, "Rejoice, don't be anxious about anything," but that's where the similarity stops. Because when you look at the song, McFerrin talks about all kinds of reasons why you should worry. He says things like the rent is late; you don't have any money; you don't have someone to make you smile, but he never gives you a way to overcome that worry. He just says, "Don't worry, be happy."
Well, Paul does the exact opposite. He tells you to look away from your anxieties and your worries and look to that which conquers both. He says look to what counts in life. He points us to Christ; he points us to the power of faith in Jesus Christ to overcome our worries, to overcome our struggles. He urges his readers to rely on the power of faith in Jesus Christ who is here to help you overcome all that is against you.
If you think Paul was living the good life, if you think he had cash in the bank, six weeks of vacation, and a summer house on some Greek island, think again. In fact, when he's writing these words, he's stuck under house arrest. He's waiting to address the Roman Emperor Nero, and the confrontation could end in his death. In 2 Corinthians he talks about what his life's been like. He catalogs the issues he's dealt with. He says, "I've been beaten, I have been stoned, I've been in constant danger."
Paul had credibility to talk about worry, to talk about stress, to talk about all of these things. And then he says, "Listen, I've got something to say to you. There is strength in knowing who this Jesus Christ is and putting the power of faith in Christ to work in your daily lives." He had a message—the only message—that deals with all we're up against.
It was "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" that gave Paul the strength to carry on (1 Corinthians 2:2b). God's in this fight with us, no matter what we're facing, no matter how ugly our opponent is.
Thanks be to God for a peace that transcends our worries.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we praise You for the gift of Your Son—our Lord and Savior, our mighty Conqueror, our Prince of Peace. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "Power to Overcome Worry and Anxiety," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
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