by Seattle ALC
Philippians 4:6-13: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ”
Thanks-giving comes from a thankful heart. Doesn’t that immediately bring us to the question what makes our hearts thankful? We can look at the circumstances of life that surround and oppress us. Whether it is our own circumstances, or that of others. Whether it is the difficulties of simply providing and caring for our families and loved ones, or perhaps the internal conflicts that we can scarcely vocalize or even speak about at all. We can quickly find ourselves struggling to be thankful. So many things, we can don’t even have to look for, cause our hearts to be anxious.
Yet in the verses from the letter written by the Apostle Paul and sent to the church at Philippi, encourages them (and us) not to be anxious for anything. But he doesn’t just tell them that and walk away, so to speak. He instructs all of us where we can turn, to find the strength to bear and overcome our anxiousness. He points to the place where he found strength. Toward Jesus, the one described by the prophet Isaiah: ” Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. “. (Isaiah 53: 4 and 5)
In spite of our brokenness and the world we live in, we have a God who loves us with a steadfast love. He sent His Son into our world to love, heal and forgive and to strengthen us. He doesn’t always remove the circumstances, but He will always ” keep our hearts” or in other words guard them in Jesus Christ. Knowing that we are protected by His Love brings a peace that our understanding can not comprehend. Thankfulness is knowing God’s provision for us in all things, because He loves us with an everlasting love.
The Apostle that wrote this was in prison simply because he professed the name of Jesus as the Christ. He did not know where life was going to take him, or what would happen to him, but he was thankful because he knew that he would always be strengthened in Jesus!
May this Thanksgiving find you with a thankful heart. May you be given the grace to look on those things the Apostle describes as: ” whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, “. May your thankfulness be rooted in Jesus Christ, He is willing and able! May He be your peace and freedom from anxiousness!