By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  November 15, 2014

            “Do not worry about anything.” These simple words from Philippians 4:6 are an insight that is often overlooked in scripture. This insight forms a part of a larger expression of Godly grace and holy wisdom that will, if heeded, change lives in amazing and wonderful ways.
            If anybody had cause to worry when these words were first written, it was Paul as he was writing them. His efforts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ had landed him in jail. Although he sincerely hoped he would be released, he could not know what the future would hold for him.
            It is human nature. When things go horribly wrong and we learn that things simply will not work out the way we had hoped or imagined, we can get very distraught, or angry, or perhaps simply depressed. It is easy to dredge up regrets of the past and rehash the mistakes we have made, the choices we made, or the paths along which we journeyed that have landed us in the depths of disappointment and despair.
            Yet Paul offers us a different focus. The book of Philippians illustrates both the fact that Paul had every reason to wallow in self-pity or get angry because his faithful labors for God did not work out the way he had hoped.
            Instead of complaints about his own dismal situation, Paul’s letter overflows with praise, joy, and affirmation. Paul abounds with radiant joy for being called by God for the ministry and seeks to encourage the church to live out of the same joy—the joy which comes from taking on the mind of Christ and living in service. To this end, Paul cries out not to worry. Instead of worry, Paul calls for the people of God to give thanks in all situations. No matter what, we are to give thanks.
            That sounds nice in theory, but life often has other realities. When caught in the throes of grief over a lost loved one, thanks is not the first thing that comes to mind. When called into the bosses office for a meeting you have every reason to believe will end badly for you, it is hard to give thanks. When you answer the phone to find yet another bill collector, it is hard not to worry. When you see things in the world that you know are horrifically wrong and you feel powerless to end the madness, it is hard not to worry. When you do not yet know the medical diagnosis, when a situation seems hopeless, when your friends have let you down, when life has slapped you upside the head and you do not know how you will recover, it is hard not to worry. In fact, worry may actually be your first course of action. Welcome to being human.
            The vivid nature of Paul’s advice to the church is that he does not simply say not to worry, he puts worry into perspective and offers an alternative mindset to overpower worry.
            It is worth noting that the word Paul uses for worry is drawn from the idea of becoming consumed. The simple point is to not let thoughts of concern over a situation consume you. Taking the time to study your situation, understand your options, consider possible outcomes, and truly discern your role in the whole process is vital and faithful! There is, however, no reason to let any of those thoughts overwhelm and consume you!
            Paul also reminds the church of the importance of keeping our mind focused on right actions, right thoughts, and right attitudes. There is no room for negativity in Paul’s faith. He calls us to focus on thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and worthy of praise. Paul reminds us that our thoughts will determine our course. Strengthen them in praise and thanksgiving and the God of Peace will be with you.