My husband told me of something he began to consider as he read Philippians 4 yesterday. Of course I was delighted because his insights centered on the strong verbs of Philippians 4 as opposed to the one weaker verb. I’m not sure of the technicalities of translating all the verbs in the Greek, but I can tell you this: Paul tells us exactly what we can do in the face of the verb “do not be anxious.” He writes:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
My husband reminds me that it’s impossible when someone says, “Just stop being anxious!” And Paul seems to know this. But when we’re told to rejoice, let, present, think, and practice, we can take some action steps with the Lord.
After an anxious day yesterday, I took inventory: while I had rejoiced and thought about good things, I never actually presented my requests to the Lord. I decided to return to the detailed prayer journal where no request is too small for the Lord, even in a pandemic. Whatever added to my anxiety, I presented as a request to God. I asked for help for even the small things (like what to make for dinner and how to finish all my grading) to larger requests for Penn State, my community, my family’s health, and for the virus to stop spreading.
And the peace of God was with me.