He Cares For You! Greg Albrecht
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, 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 4:6-7).
Paul wrote these words when he was in lock-down – the power of the mighty Roman Empire insisted he “stay safe at home.” Paul was social distancing whether he liked it or not. He was in prison, or at the very least under house arrest. He had good reason to be anxious about everything in his life yet he said, “Do not be anxious about anything…”
Paul was an intelligent man. He had a very good idea what might eventually happen to him and it was not a pleasant thought. Paul didn’t ignore the reality that tomorrow might bring him trouble and adversity and even death. Paul encourages the Philippians, come hell or high water, to focus on God and pray to him, for God will surely give his peace.
God, says Jesus, “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Bad things happen to Christians and non-Christians alike. Critical emergencies happened yesterday for many of us. Some of us are experiencing horrible predicaments right now. All of us may endure worse things tomorrow.
Job poetically tells us “Yet man is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Just as it is inevitable that sparks will fly upward from a fire in your fireplace or a blazing fire-pit in a campground, so it is inevitable that trouble is part of life.
Because trouble and trials are inevitable in life, there are always those who would capitalize on that reality for their own benefit. Within Christendom there are those who insist the trouble we experience is God’s wrath, and our troubles are a result of the penalties God is making us pay.
There are those who call themselves Christians who say we endure troubles because we are not praying enough, working hard enough or doing the right things often enough. Thanks be to God, his peace delivers us from the anxieties, dilemmas, insecurities, fears and worries that besiege us, including threats and intimidations that arise from the world of Christ-less religion.
When trouble and difficulties arise, our first reaction is to do something and find a way to fix and solve the problem. And while physically we should try to find a way to solve problems, in our spiritual lives as Christ-followers we know that nothing we can do can save us or earn us God’s love and grace.
When trouble and difficulties arise, as Christ-followers we know that God loves us. We know that in the middle of the storms of doubt and shame and guilt and adversarial problems, he continues to love us just as much as he ever has or ever will. On the spiritual side of things, Christ-followers know that what they can do about their problems is not enough to save them.
When trouble and difficulties arise, we know that Jesus Christ has already done all that is needed – nothing we can do will allow us to earn or deserve God’s love. He loves us in the middle of good times and bad times.
Christ-less religion is one of the real and present dangers in the midst of trying and troubling times because it insists that our own actions and behaviors and deeds can and will save us. Christ-less religion is a real and present danger, because it insists on making “to-do” lists for you and me that have already been accomplished by Jesus Christ for us.
Christ-less religion demands that we participate in order to survive the storms of life, whereas the gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that Jesus is the Captain of our salvation, and he will save us from the storms, even if he must walk on water to get to our sinking ship.
“We have to do something, don’t we? NO! That is no longer the question. Now the question becomes, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?” – Gerhard Forde, “Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life.”
When the children of Israel were surrounded by mountains on two sides, by the Red Sea ahead of them and the armies of Pharaoh closing in on them from behind, Moses told them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance God will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
In the face of insurmountable odds, up against problems we cannot solve, what should we do? What can we do when the storm rages all around us? Stand still. Be filled with the peace of God that transcends all understanding.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34).
It may well be that seeking the kingdom in the here-and-now, today, even lacking specific promises for what may or may not happen tomorrow…even in the midst of uncertainty and fear, anxiety and doubt, that we fully discover the unbounded joy of what it means to follow Jesus.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Tomorrow isn’t a priority interest in the teachings of Jesus. God will take care of our past, our present and our future. We can take that to the bank of heaven!
Remember, in the midst of trouble and difficulties, stand still. Be filled with the peace of God that transcends all understanding. Remember, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
(1 Peter 5:7).