I’ve seen this Bible verse all over social media and instead of getting a warm dose of feel-goods—the words slid past me like a greased up pig on a red-neck slip’n-slide.
Sorry—couldn’t resist the analogy.
Maybe the power of this verse was lost on you, too. Maybe you have questions…..
How does the peace of God surpass understanding?
Does it mean that we should unexplainably be infused with His peace?
And if we aren’t, does it mean we are not thankful enough? That we aren’t praying enough?
Here is where I think the problem lies for me:
I forget that this famous verse is flanked by two imperatives that hold the key to unlocking peace in our hearts. Without these before-and-after verses—the words about this transcending peace remain mysterious and nebulous—floating in the heavenly clouds.
I don’t know about you—but I need some meat on those bones! I need to know HOW I can invite some of that sweet peace into my life during this world-wide pandemic.
But we need to start by knowing THIS:
Let’s see how...
Phil. 4: 4 - Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say “Rejoice”.
The word ‘rejoice’ in the original Greek means to “thrive in God’s grace.” The circumstances in which Paul wrote this letter were less than ideal—he was in prison, with a looming execution and he had been rejected by some of the churches he had birthed! Can you imagine how he must have been feeling? Do you think he may have been tempted to throw a pity-party?
Yet, he writes the word “joy" more times in this letter than any other! No doubt that the words that God was leading him to write were just as much for Paul himself as they were for the millions of pairs of eyes that would read them in the future. He is saying to himself and to us, “Thrive in the Grace of God because even when things look crappy—and let’s face it—things look crappy out there-the JOY that comes with knowing the outcome of our lives is ENOUGH."
But just how do we cultivate that kind of JOY in our lives?
Phil. 4:5 - Let your Reasonableness be known to everyone.
Seriously—is Paul asking me to be reasonable!?
The NIV says “gentleness”, other versions say “moderation” but essentially what Paul is saying here is don’t be REACTIVE and don’t lose your head in times of crisis. If we are making a daily conscious decision to CHOOSE JOY in our lives, then it should be evident to all. Not because we should care what people think of us—but because our actions are catalysts to repel or draw people to God.
This is HARD for me, friends. I am a very REACTIVE person and I tend to give in to impulses when I am under stress. Like reaching for that second or third glass of wine. Like snapping at my husband, like struggling with my thoughts….
Paul says here that JOY is rooted in being REASONABLE and GENTLE. Going to break this TRUTH down to the 4 Cs:
God chose to remind the Philippians to be gentle with one another because our gentleness soothes our own hearts as well as the hearts of others. How do we activate gentleness in our lives?
- Deep Breathing The power of breathing for mental health is amazing. Check out this super-informative link.
- Embracing “Do-Overs”- It’s okay to apologize for snapping or yelling at the people you love. Just ask your kids or husband for a do-over. We’re all a work-in-progress and it’s good to model this for our kids.
- Forced Delayed Response-Take a second or two to take a deep breath before responding to the mini-crisis unfolding in your home. This will give you time to activate a gentler spirit rather than yielding to the wicked Mama tongue lashing.
The little peeps in your home pick up on the vibes you put out. In other words, how you respond during this quarantine is contagious. Choose to keep your cool.
- Play some tunes on Alexa and throw a dance party with your kids.
- Invite levity into your home through funny movies or looking up jokes online.
- Now is a good time to join Tik Tok—nothing cooler than mom trying to memorize the moves (note the sarcasm here).
A person who is collected is unwavering under PRESSURE. And let’s face it—for some of us—this cabin fever has some of us about to blow our top!!! Do what it takes to draw YOU to Jesus and to yourself.
- Word before world. Challenge yourself to reach for your Bible before reaching for your phone. (I’ll be talking more about how to do this in the next blog)
- Use stress busting Essential Oils. I keep Stress Away oil in my shower and make sure to do my breathing for the morning by taking in the stress busting scents of Vanilla and Lavender. They are scientifically proven to help.
- Take a timeout. It’s okay for Mama to take a 2-minute break to collect herself. Step outside, make a space in your closet, hide in the backseat of your car (maybe not)—but choose your sacred “time-out” space.
Want to know why Paul was able to keep his cool during such a trying time? Because he knew the Outcome. For Paul, it boiled down to one thing—JESUS. He knew that no matter the trials he faced—the thought of being with Jesus forever was enough.
- The key to attaining this confidence is through our THOUGHTS. (More on this in the next blog)
Turns out that choosing to be joyful and reasonable is a BIG DEAL when it comes to unlocking the mysterious PEACE that Paul refers to in verses 6 and 7.
On the next blog, I am going to be jumping ahead to the last part of Philippians 4 and talking about the POWER behind our THOUGHTS and how Paul used very specific thoughts to “guard his heart and mind” against invasion from the enemy.
How do you implement some of these things in your life already? Did anything here speak to you in some way? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.