Monday, August 20, 2012

OnFire #284 Peace and Joy Prevail

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #284 Peace and Joy Prevail

While we were on PEI for vacation this summer, friends of ours joined us and brought their motor boat. One day while on a cruise of the river a loud buzzer warned that the engine was overheating. As it turns out, a piece of seaweed had clogged the water intake. Once we cleared it, the pump was free to do its work, and we were soon speeding up the river once again.

It’s too bad we don’t have some sort of internal warning like that buzzer to alert us that we are anxious and fearful about something. Sometime in the middle of last week I realized that I was not a good judge of my own emotional state, but rather had been stressing about problems. In fact, I understood that I had been worried for some amount of time, distressed even, and had not realized it. I wonder how often in the past this has happened to me without realizing it....

In any case, perhaps it was in response to thinking about this week’s verses, which I have often used to help other people. Curiously, I was thinking about how to write about them for you, when I needed to apply them for myself.

“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 everything, 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.” (Philippians 4:4-7*)

These verses rate highly on my “everyone should know list” because they show us how to replace anxiety, stress and fear with joy and peace. Rather than “chewing and stewing” like we so often do, we can experience deep and genuine peace even though “the wheels are coming off the cart,” as people like to say here. When we have real peace, we feel joy and blessing instead of fear, and we can even pass it along to others instead of being grumpy and grouchy with the people around us.

I have come to believe that a lot of what we do when we’re afraid and anxious is about coping with our distress, not about actually taking it away. We tend to do things to make ourselves feel better, if only for a short time, but it doesn’t actually remove the apprehension we feel. 

Here we’re not talking about drugs and alcohol, although lots of people certainly resort to these measures. How many times do we turn to food, or a movie, or a cup of coffee because it feels good, and we need a break? How often do we pour ourselves into work or a project, to cooking or cleaning because it helps us forget our problems, at least for a little while?

What we have in these verses is not about coping, but an actual remedy for our restlessness about the future. “ prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It must seem silly to God when we won’t give Him the things that are too big for us to carry. He is more than capable, and He is more than willing to lift the burden for us.

The word “petition” implies that we’re going to need to repeat the exercise of prayer. We are prone to worry and so we must be prone to pray. Like weeds creeping in the garden, we need to cut back worry with prayer.

“Thanksgiving” is important, too. Do we believe God will help us? We can thank Him for it even before we see the results because we know it is as good as done.

I have discovered I am a poor judge of my own state, but that doesn’t matter so much. Once I understand that I am agitated, I can take these things to the Lord, and I know that he will replace my fear with His peace.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.

OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Aug 20, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

No comments:

Post a Comment