4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Paul says, in order to not be anxious, fill our lives with prayer and thanksgiving. Paul wrote this passage from a prison cell. Despite his circumstances, he was still at peace because he rejoiced in the Lord and his eyes were focused on Jesus. He trusts that God has a plan for His life and prison is part of that. Contentment, in the way Paul describes it, is the inner sense of peace knowing you are right with God and that He is in control of everything that happens to us.
Peace comes from Gratitude
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (Philippians 4:11)
Peace and gratitude belong together like peanut butter and jelly. If you don’t have gratitude for what God has provided or where He has you in life, you will never be satisfied and will always be restless. We will never be at peace if we have the “grass is always greener” mentality where other people’s circumstances and belongings seem more desirable than your own. A lot of the time, we believe the answer to our discontentment is getting something we don’t yet have. This is the “New is better” solution - a new job, car, new friends, new clothes, etc. This is a struggle with social media in our lives. As pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation says, “one reason we struggle with insecurity is we are comparing our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is literally Instagram in a nutshell. We can find peace when we focus on things God has blessed us with in our life rather than what we don’t have that we see in other people’s lives.
I’ve never worn glasses but I hear the lens you see through impacts how well you see the world. If we look through a lens of gratitude, our whole perspective on life can change. It changes how we view life situations - from an “I have to go to work” mentality to changing the narrative and saying “I get to” go to work or even better saying “God has blessed me with the opportunity to use my gifts and abilities each day.” You can go from saying “I have to go to class” to God has given me the opportunity to learn and grow today and I get to do that in class! Everything in life has been given to us. When we change our lens on a situation, our outlook of the situation can change as well.
How much are you praying into the things that worry you? Are you thanking God for what He has given or have you forgotten? What are some areas of your life that you tend to overlook and taken for granted?
Peace comes from Fixing our Eyes on Jesus
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31)
Worry and fear will sink you. In Peter’s case, quite literally. When Peter had faith, he walked on water! The moment he started looking around at his circumstances, the waves all around him and the loud winds and thunder screaming at him, he took his eyes off Jesus and fear crept back in. As Peter cried for help, Jesus was right there to extend a hand.
When we look at others and see their lives, comparison jumps in. We, just as Peter did, take our eyes off of Jesus and focus on life’s circumstances. We wonder if we are falling behind, doing things right, or debate if we even chose the right career path or major. Then, fear of missing out, fear of failure, and fear of the future start to consume your life. Post grad life is intriguing because everyone is at different places in life, some of my friends are married, some are in grad school, some already are well positioned in a career and doing what they love, some switching careers, and some, like myself, are living at home. The point is, there is no blueprint for life except the life of Jesus.
Hebrews 12 says “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” All we need to do is look up at Jesus! When you are fixed on Jesus, all your worries and fears are beneath you instead of feeling like you are drowning in them. The opposite of fear is faith! Faith is saying I have confidence that God is bigger than whatever circumstance or situation in my life. (John 16:33)
We have the ability to determine where we look and to whom we look. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, He fixes our heart.
Peace comes from Trusting in God
Some people want to control everything. The outcome of their lives, circumstances, and even other people’s lives. We plan out our lives and constantly worry about whether things will go how we want them to. We even try and control things out of our control. However, things don’t always turn out how we plan. In fact, most of the time they don’t. How many of you are planning life after college? And worrying that things won’t go the way you plan?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
Here Jesus reassures us that we will be taken care of. There is so much peace in knowing that God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
We find peace and rest in God knowing that He is our provider, healer, leader, and father. We don’t need anything else but Him. He is enough. This means taking to heart what He says rather than the opinions and words of other people.
John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
How much time are you spending with God? How much are you trusting Him? With your job? Your grades? Major? Your future? Your friends and family? Finances? Your boyfriend/girlfriend?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
Author | Kyle Pickett