Don’t Worry—Be Peaceful
Do not worry 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 passes all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6)
I have been reflecting
on how words from scripture and liturgy often pop into our heads just when we
need them. These are the blessings of the Holy Spirit always at work, quietly
behind the scenes, in just the ways that we need.
I am not by
nature a worrier, but when concerns arise or when responsibilities pile up, it
is a common human response to allow them to begin to overwhelm our thinking.
Our view of the world becomes clouded by this lens of worry, making us unable
to see clearly the things that we do need to take care of.
We know these verses from Philippians well; they immediately follow the “Rejoice in the
Lord” passage that children love to sing about. But as often happens when we
return to what we thought we knew, we see it in a new way because we have been
changed in the meantime. (We are always being changed; we are new every day.)
What I got from these verses today when I read them was this:
1) When you are tempted to worry, DON’T.
Instead, convert it into a prayer and lift the concern into God’s care,
remaining thankful for the abiding presence of our God who is involved in every
corner of our lives, because that is how much God loves us.
2) Doing this brings peace.
When our family was all together after Christmas, with our son Martin and his wife Bekah
here along with Margaret and Greg, we made a nighttime trip to Longwood Gardens
for the famous light show. It was even more magical than I had imagined – not a
hit-you-in-the-face kind of experience with Christmas lights but an illuminated
wonderland with new discoveries at every twist and turn. Warming up in the
bookstore afterward, I spied a book of inspirational sayings on the theme of
mindfulness. Normally I would pass up that kind of thing, figuring it would be
kitschy, but this was so attractively illustrated with nature-oriented
watercolors that I indulged. I’m glad I did, because I have been enjoying
treating myself to a new saying each day.
One of my favorites so far is from St. Francis de Sales, a 16th century Jesuit priest
who has been described as “persevering, purposeful, serene,
affable, irresistibly charming, and above all, consumed with the love of God” –
and whose feast day in the Roman Catholic Church, I just discovered, is the
very day on which I am writing this (January 24). The quote the book uses from
him goes like this:
Never be in a hurry: Do everything
quietly and in a calm spirit.
Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever,
even if your whole world seems upset.
This sounds great, but how are we to
achieve or recover that inner peace?
Paul’s verse from Philippians tellsus. As the old hymn says, take it to the Lord in prayer.
It’s as simple asthat. Let God do the worrying, for only God can see the totality of any given situation.
Trust God’s will to be done in the right way at the right time, and
let the peace of that trust be the fuel for the patience that will be required
And may the peace that passes all
understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.