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.Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I thought that passage was worth quoting in full, since it contains such useful, practical instructions for how to think, how to live and how to avoid anxiety. It is certainly a passage I need to read, mark and inwardly ingest. All too often I find myself defaulting to gloom and depression, dwelling on all the bad things in my life and in the world. I go over and over "whatever is false, whatever is dishonourable, whatever is unjust, whatever is impure, whatever is horrible, whatever is reprehensible" and experience a lot of misery, fear, anxiety and very little peace. Lately I have found myself revisiting a situation in some one's life or the world for which I've been praying, going back over it again and again, not letting go.
But these verses tell me to do the opposite, to give these situations and concerns and requests to God, then move on and leave them with Him, not say with my mouth I am giving them to Him, then holding onto them still in my heart. Instead I need to trust Him with them, and move on, trust Him with myself and rejoice and think about "anything excellent, anything worth of praise". Yet again it comes back to trusting God. And so I keep repenting and returning to Him and trying to learn to accept His peace and allow Him to guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Who could be a better guardian of my heart and mind? Who can better help those I care about and help this troubled world?
God giving us His peace "that surpasses all understanding" is an immense expression of God's superlative generosity and grace. My life would look so different if I did entrust everything to God: infinitely better, calmer, more joyful, secure, peaceful and a powerful witness to the world. So I will keep praying that God will help me to remember to bring things to Him and not hold onto themselves myself, allow Him to take my burdens (Matthew 11.28-30) and that He will increasingly grant me His peace.
Then, having entrusted myself to Him, I pray that He will help me not to think on all the evils of this world but on "whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable... any excellence... anything worthy of praise" and to work out what this list includes. I suspect that this list will, outside the obvious key examples, such as God and Jesus, depend greatly upon each of our interests and characters, since God is a God of such creativity and infinite variety.
Therefore this is my challenge, to change what I think about and learn to entrust what worries me to God and rejoice in Him instead. Father help me, for I need your help.