Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.
Joy Versus Anxiety
Don’t be anxious? Does the Apostle Paul sound a little too optimistic here? Our lives are filled with so many reasons for anxiety—especially this time of year! Is there any month where your “to do” list is longer than December? Is there any season where you have more events on your calendar then this one? We can be anxious about little things this time of year like, “Should we visit her parents or my parents this Christmas?” And we can be anxious about big things, like, “Will mom even make it to Christmas. Her health is so bad.”
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was writing to people wracked with anxiety. The believers in Philippi were worried about Paul as he wrote to them from prison. Paul himself was worried for them as he wrote about enemies of the cross of Christ. There is always something to make us anxious.
What has you anxious? Is it the impending Christmas break or what will be under the tree? Is it travel plans and all you have to finish before you leave town? Is it the pressure to make this Christmas memorable because the family is growing up so fast? Is it a lack of plans that has you anxious? Whoever you are and wherever you live, there is always something to make us anxious.
But the peace of God that Paul speaks about is the complete opposite of that anxiety. Living in anxious world and in the midst of an anxious time of year, we can appreciate the contrast. The more we see the anxiousness of the season, the more the peace of God that transcends all understanding stands out as the blessing that it is.
So, slow down and gaze at the baby in the manger. There is no need to spend or plan or hurry. There is nothing for us to do, nothing to busy ourselves with. Instead as we come to the manger, we can be still. Friends, slow down. Take a deep breath. And enjoy the peace he brings. As we gaze at this child in the manger, we see the one who did all that needs to be done to make us right with God through his death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead. We see the one who has forgiven every one of our sins. We see the one who will come again to take us to a world where anxiety does not exist.
In the middle of all our doing, what a joy it is to be still and to rejoice in all that is already done.
There is always something to make us anxious—especially this time of year. But we know where to find peace. We find it in the Savior lying in a manger. Return to his manger often. Leave your anxiety with him. Present your requests, prayers, and petitions to him. He is the reason for peace!
God of peace, you promise to hear and answer our prayers. You know the anxiety that fills our hearts and minds. We commit it to your care. Do what you know is best. Bless our efforts according to your loving will. And lead us to find rest in all that you’ve done for us in your cross. Amen.