Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious 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 surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
People tend to cross stitch “Rejoice in the Lord always” on pillows. We see greeting cards reminding us not to “be anxious about anything, but in everything … give thanks.” And condolences during grief or challenging times often repeat the phrase, “the peace which surpasses all understanding….”
Yet, sometimes the commands to rejoice and not be anxious seem harsh and burdensome.
There is a little phrase in the middle of these verses we leave off of the marketing materials. It’s right there between rejoice and don’t be anxious:
The Lord is at hand.
Why doesn’t that make the pillows, t-shirts, greeting cards, and calendars?
The only way we can rejoice in all circumstances, be reasonable, abandon anxiety, and give thanks as we make our requests known to God is to live in the knowledge that the Lord is at hand. The only way to experience the peace that passes all understanding is to pursue the presence of God. And the only way we have the power to live according to his design is to recognize his presence in our mundane moments.
When we strip the comfort and confidence of knowing the Lord is at hand from the instructions on how to live, we forfeit the peace that passes understanding – the very thing he promises. We accept a burden we were never meant to bear. Rejoicing and freedom from anxiety aren’t so much rules to be obeyed, as they are the natural result of living under the hand of the Lord.
Lets ask ourselves honestly, “How would it change my day today if I live as if ‘the Lord is at hand’?”
This post builds on the theme we’re talking about today over at Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study. If you’d like to join us you can subscribe to that Bible study with daily devotions here: http://eepurl.com/bPCVqn.