B. Keith Chapman, President & CEO
“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.”
Most would agree that 2020 brought plenty of opportunities for us to be anxious, worried, and overwhelmed. I certainly found myself concerned and troubled at times throughout the year. I benefited from being reminded, from time to time, of the principles found in Philippians 4:6-7. It is amazing how easily we can forget that we serve an all-powerful God who is more than capable of handling our problems. We tend to focus on the problems themselves instead of focusing on God and allowing Him to help us along the way.
Ten-8’s verse for 2021 starts off with the statement, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Easier said than done especially in 2020! The passage goes on to explain how to accomplish anxious free living. It tells us to pray and ask (petition) God for assistance, a simple but powerful solution to our needs and problems. However, prayer and petition can also stretch our faith. The Lord explains in Isaiah 5:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Prayers are sometimes not answered in the timing or in the way that we think they should. God sees the big picture and promises that all things work together for good to those that are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The bottom line….God remains in control regardless of our circumstances, thoughts, and feelings. It is on us to exercise patience and trust that God will work things out accordingly to His plan. Nothing in this passage, or in the Bible for that matter, promises that we will not experience challenges in 2021. However, if we apply the principles found in Philippians 4 to our daily lives, we are promised that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. This is a peace that makes no human sense (transcends our understanding). Those who have experienced this kind of peace before understand the comfort and security that it brings.
There is another very important component of this passage that I don’t want to skip over. The verse says, “…with thanksgiving”. I believe this is critical when it comes to our communication with God. Stress can cause us to be solely focused on our problems, which makes it easy for us to miss the subtle blessings along the way. I have said many times before, the real battle of our attitude and feelings happens in our head. We tend to focus so much on the negative that we can totally overlook the blessings around us. Negativity also causes us to be more self-centered in our thoughts, oftentimes causing us to forget about the needs of others. A good habit to form is to always start your prayers off by giving thanks. I would encourage you at the beginning of 2021 to take a moment and reflect on all the things you can be thankful for in your life. It is incredible the list of things you can come up with that others may not be so fortunate to have or experience. You will find that this can completely change your thought process, as well as, set the stage for healthy and open communication with God.
Challenge: When you find yourself getting anxious, follow the principles in Philippians 4. Give thanks, pray often, and communicate to God the desires of your heart. Keep your mind focused on the blessings around you and trust God in all things.
Have a blessed 2021! – Keith