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  • Writer's pictureJodi Ware

Peace from God’s Nearness (Philippians 4:6-7)


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ⁷And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

My father was a wonderful, godly man, and he was blessed with a deep voice. My four sisters and I have often remarked on the security we felt when we heard that deep, rumbly voice. It meant that Dad was home, he was near, he would take care of us.


These verses, some of the most familiar in the Bible, give us an even greater sense of security, especially when we read the phrase preceding them: “The Lord is at hand” (v. 5).

Many of the Biblical commands not to be afraid are connected with the promise of God’s presence. We need to notice this connection, and let the truth of God’s presence with us allay our fears.


Who is this Lord who is “at hand”?


He is the sovereign ruler over everything, large and small. He is the all-powerful One, whom nothing and no one can thwart. He is the infinitely wise One, knowing all things and accomplishing good purposes. He is the loving One, abounding in loyal love for His people. He is compassionate, slow to anger, full of grace and mercy, and ceaselessly faithful. And this God, this Lord, is near.


These verses give us a clear choice: continue to be anxious and fearful, or bring our worries to God, who alone is perfectly able and willing to care for every concern of our lives. We face this choice over and over, as God brings into our lives new circumstances in which to learn to trust Him.


Not only are we commanded to bring our requests to the Lord, but we’re told to do so “with thanksgiving.” Why is thanksgiving an essential part of truly trusting the Lord with present concerns? Answer: because thanksgiving is both backward- and forward- looking. We trust God now, in part, because of past evidence of His favor and grace in the trials He has taken us through. Our thanksgiving also anticipates His faithfulness to meet us in our need now, giving us confidence that our gracious and great God will not—indeed, cannot—fail us. Whether “through fiery trials” or through pathways of gladness, God designs what is best and He is always perfectly faithful.


How remarkable that our sovereign, wise, powerful, loving God invites us to pour out our hearts to Him—in everything. What a helpful response to people who wrongly charge that believing in God’s sovereignty means there is no reason to pray. Actually, believing in God’s sovereignty gives us great reason to pray and to align our hearts with His good and wise purposes. As we pray, ask, and thank the Lord, we receive from Him true peace as we rest in His power to accomplish what His wisdom has planned. This peace is deeper and richer than our circumstances. It “transcends human understanding” (J.B. Phillips translation).


May we be encouraged to bring everything to God in prayer, to thank Him for His character, His purposes, and His ways, and to experience the peace and rest that come from knowing that He is at hand.

 

For Reflection

  1. When you are anxious about something, where are you tempted to turn? Escapist entertainment, self-comfort, other people?

  2. How might your perspective change if you were to seek God first?

  3. Choose one verse about the nearness of God, and a second about His sovereignty. Meditate on these truths and let them cultivate transcendent peace in your heart.

 

Jodi Ware lives in Louisville, KY, where she is a member of Clifton Baptist Church. Her husband Bruce is a professor at Southern Seminary. Jodi spends her time meeting with, speaking to, and learning from women. She is involved in women's ministry and music ministry at church, and in the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern. The Lord used a period of postpartum depression years ago to teach her the incalculable value of reading and memorizing His Word.

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