My husband has dealt with poor eyesight since he was 12-years old. For many years, Ron managed well with monovision contact lenses, but a couple years ago, his vision worsened, and he learned the reason was related to a genetic abnormality. With surgery, the prognosis for significant improvement was promising.
Last Wednesday, I waited almost 4 hours while Ron underwent surgery his doctor later explained was a “serious, three-in-one operation.” That final day of January 2018, became what I call Philippians 4:6 & 7 Practice.
The next two Listening on the Journey… posts will look at this practical portion of scripture.
Words of Philippians 4:6 & 7 are for me some of the most important ever written. Penned by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison somewhere around 62 AD, these two short verses provide a powerful prayer model for stressful times.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. (NIV)
Today, let’s look at Philippians 4:6.
“Do not be anxious about anything.” (v. 6 a)
From verse 6, we learn first to acknowledge anxiety, willing to accept anxiety isn’t a sign of weakness, lack of faith or negative thinking.
Sometimes obstacles seem insurmountable.
Sometimes disappointments don’t stop, but snowball.
Some circumstances are terrifying.
Sometimes life simply stinks!
Paul implies it’s all right to admit life we will face anxious times.
I’m convinced I inherited a “worry” gene. If I’m not intentional, my emotional default is to become anxious. During this latest anxiety-producing event, I was tempted a time or two to wonder:
- What if the doctor isn’t really qualified to do this surgery? After all, he said it’s a pretty rare operation.
- Maybe we should have gone to a bigger city than Spokane.
- What if Ron won’t be able to drive, and I need to chauffer him around. [God, you do remember how much I dislike driving, don’t you?]
Sure, anxiety is part of our human condition, but anxiety left unchecked produces barrels full of what if’s and should’s. That’s why words Paul wrote to his Philippian friends demonstrating a remedy for dealing with the reality of anxiety are critical.
Rather than nursing anxious thoughts, Paul tells us to pray purposely, petitioning God for the desired outcome.
“but in every situation, by prayer and petition…present your request to God” (v. 6 b)
- Ron and I have been praying about the condition of his eyesight for a long time.
- For over a year, we’ve prayed for the surgeries he was told were inevitable. We’ve petitioned God for insight to make wise decisions and to equip every medical professional with special skill.
- We’ve prayed for God’s favor and blessing.
- We’ve asked our family of faith to join us in praying.
- We’ve asked God to help us accept any outcome, to never forget that while we may not understand God’s ways, we will cling to our assurance that God is always good.
Then, Paul urges us to intentionally turn our thoughts toward thankfulness.
“with thanksgiving, present your requests” (v. 6 c)
Psychological research shows the powerful benefit of thanksgiving, even to the point of changing brain chemistry.
Thankfulness, I believe, trumps anxiousness every time.
When a situation is worrisome, though, this is easy to overlook, and I need to remind myself I must be purposeful to think thankful thoughts.
sLast Wednesday, as I pondered Ron’s medical situation, I knew we had much for which to be thankful.
- Ron’s genetic condition often results in damage to the heart as well as the eyes. A medical test assured Ron’s heart is fine.
- We live in a nation where excellent medical care is plentiful, and we’re blessed with good medical insurance.
- Friends and family are supporting us with prayers and well wishes.
- We have each other and embrace our vows for “better or worse; in sickness and in health.”
- Following surgery, we’ll return to a warm, comfortable home for rest and recuperation.
- If I MUST, I’m capable of driving, and we own a nice, safe vehicle.
I hope you’ll join me next time for a look at verse 7—a promise for peace despite anxiety…