All of us want peace. We search for this peace in everything under the sun. Just look at the advertisements our culture produces. Every commercial promises the product they are selling can meet our deepest needs, can save us from a life that doesn’t matter, and can give us peace from the chaos surrounding us. We are all searching for peace in this crazy world. So, where can we find this peace our souls need?
Paul’s closing words to the Philippian church show us where we can find “the peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Rejoice in the Lord
Paul calls the church to rejoice in the Lord always. Peace is found in the joy of the gospel. Through every trial, we can rejoice because we know Jesus loves us. We know Jesus loves us because of the cruel cross and the empty tomb. Peace is found in rejoicing in the Lord and his love and grace.
Pray about everything
Paul tells the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Anxiety and fear can be the enemy of peace. Anxiety and fear internalize the chaos happening around us. One of the ways we fight anxiety is by bringing everything to God in prayer. Paul tells us to bring every feeling, every worry, and every situation to God in prayer with supplication.
Ask God to work. Ask God to show his faithfulness and love. Ask God to reveal his power and glory. Bring your requests to him. No request is too big or too small.
We can begin a fight against anxiety with prayer. Prayer is fruit of a heart that trusts God. The first step towards peace in Christ is prayer.
Have a thankful heart
Notice what Paul says about the life of prayer that leads to peace. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (emphasis added). The key phrase in this sentence is “with thanksgiving.”
Bring every request, every situation, every worry and anxiety to God with thanksgiving.
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Thankfulness leads us to joy and peace. This doesn’t mean saying “thank you” makes everything better, but it does mean joy is found in Jesus when our hearts are thankful.
Cultivate a heart that recognizes God’s goodness and faithfulness in every mountaintop and in every valley. Thankful hearts are formed to see God’s goodness, love, faithfulness and glory in every moment.
Even when we can’t thank God for the situation we face, we can thank God for his unfailing love and enduring presence. We can thank God for his sure promises. We can thank God for Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that assure us of God’s care for us no matter what we are going through.
Thankful hearts remind us of God’s faithfulness and help us endure the trials and suffering we all face.
How do we cultivate a thankful heart?
Learn to pay attention to God and his work all around us. Paul tells the church to focus their thoughts on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable. “If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Think about truth, goodness and beauty wherever they are revealed. We are thankful when our eyes see God’s goodness everywhere, our ears hear God’s truth proclaimed everywhere, and our hearts behold God’s beauty everywhere.
God leads us to thankfulness and peace by calling us to pay attention, to be attentive to his glory and grace all around us. Thankfulness comes from knowing God, trusting God, and seeing him at work in the world around us.
We are all searching for peace. Peace is found in Jesus. It is found in trusting him with every situation and request with thankful hearts that pay attention to his work in the world.
Zac Harrel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas.