Last night our weekly prayer group read together Philippians 4:4-7. I was especially struck by verses 6-7, which read "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as
you live in Christ Jesus." This was written by Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome. It's possible this was while he was under house arrest (Acts 28:16), which would have been a lot less oppressive than the average hole-in-the-wall cell with no light or heat and little ventilation -- still, not the ideal.
But look how he sets this up: "always rejoice in the Lord. I'll say it again, Rejoice!" (v. 4). By focusing on Jesus, the Lord (that means "BOSS" of course) and recognizing he is truly in charge, we can be full of joy in every circumstance. Then, if you use that assurance -- that Jesus is in charge -- to refuse to worry, then a wonderful thing happens. Instead of worrying, you can pray. Praying, you give all your concerns and worries and needs and requests, over to God, who is the Boss, and "thank him for all he has done" as you pray.
When you refuse to worry, and pray all your cares out to the Lord, thanking him for what he has already done, the next wonderful thing happens: PEACE. You can't manufacture it, produce it, or come up with it on your own. But when you stop worrying, and instead give all your requests to God while thanking him, then you're able to receive the peace we would not have experienced while worrying.
I know. I've learned to do this. After about 60 years!
Notice, it takes the entire sequence of Rejoice, Stop Worrying, and Pray with Thankfulness, before the Peace arrives. You can't shortcut it, you can't rush it, you can't make it happen.
So today, what (or who) is bugging you? Can you focus, instead, on the blessings God has given you in his Son Jesus? And can you thank him in prayer for those blessings? Can you let go of the attempt to control the outcome -- that's what worry is -- and let God be God? Brace yourself, you may get overwhelmed by the peace that washes over you! Or you may just get to relax, for the first time in a long time, in the peace that comes from God's love holding you close and safe.
(Rejoicing - Worry) + (Prayer with Thanksgiving) = Peace. It's a powerful formula!