Bible Verse for Today: “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 4:6,7 ESV)
These verses are familiar to many but serve as an important guide in this day as communities, states, our nation, and the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week updates took place it seemed by the hour, not just the day. News reports, press conferences, the stock market tumbling, the cancelation of meetings have left people feeling out of control, confused and in a state of panic.
Social media has shown pictures of lines outside of Costco stores, some stores have closed because of empty shelves and hoarding is making Black Friday look like a normal shopping day.
Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London, says the reason for a shopping panic can be found in the psychology of “retail therapy” — where we buy to manage our emotional state.
“It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” he said. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychological needs.” Another psychologist explains the run on toilet paper as being related to seeing what others are doing and following their actions.
One thing you can count on is that when emotions take over, peace goes out the window. This is not modern psychological discovery, it can be observed throughout time. When Paul wrote to Philippian Christians they needed an infusion of joy and peace. The theme of his letter reaches a crescendo in chapter 4.
- There is a connection between prayer and peace (v.6,7)
I like the wording of the New Living Translation, “Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything…” I recall reflecting on these verses recently and was impressed that the value of prayer is not just God’s intervention in a need, but God’s intervention in my life. In my emotions.
Prayer brings peace because it focuses our attention on a God who loves us and is present and is able to intervene in the affairs of those who call on Him. In teaching on worry, Jesus said that instead of being focused on worry we are, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
Thanksgiving is an important aspect of our prayers. Gratitude makes for happy people. It makes for content people.
Then I like the assurance of God’s peace “that passes all understanding…” God’s peace is not a by-product of our human nature or emotional exercise. It comes from God. When I experience a peace that “doesn’t make sense.” When it bypasses my understanding. I can know it is from God.
2. There is a connection between my thoughts and peace. (v. 8)
Paul provides a guide as to how to focus our mind. “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
When you look at this list, you will notice our natural inclination is just the opposite of these. Perhaps that is why Paul told the Corinthians, “…take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV) We have to discipline our thoughts to experience the peace of God and not give in to what some refer to as, “stinkin thinkin.”
3. There is a connection between my actions and peace (v. 9)
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Peace comes from the application of truth. When we hear and learn and fail to act, we build a life on a shaky foundation that can not withstand the storms of life. (Matthew 7:24-27) It is not what you “know” but what you “do” that is the key to experiencing the peace of God.
Do you need some peace in the midst of this current storm that is raging against our lives? Follow the recommendations of health officials, do what you needed in your daily life, social interactions and hygiene. But remember to take time to follow the prescription of Paul to experience the peace that comes alone from the God who loves you, is present and is powerful.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”