This article is part three of a three-part collection reflecting on your pastors’ favorite verses in the book of Philippians. Throughout most of 2019, we will continue our sermon series on this beloved epistle. Come join us Sunday as we continue to learn and worship together.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)
Can God be trusted?
Softball question, right? Of course God can be trusted! Still, sometimes that trust doesn’t always come easily.
When it comes to matters of eternal security, final salvation, it’s usually not hard for me to make this a given truth. God will save me fully in the end. His faithfulness in this is too clear to me from Scripture from beginning to the end. Philippians 1:6 is a powerful promise and attestation to this glorious reality.
However, as I watch my sons go through various seasons, I find myself wondering what will become of their lives. I contemplate what kind of men they’ll be some day. I consider some of the trials that they’ll have to fight through. I think about our cultural context that is so antagonistic toward the faith, and the element of social marginalization that they’ll navigate, and then I wonder if God can be trusted with the good hopes and dreams I have for my sons.
Can He be trusted with that?
Here’s another scenario that’s very real for me. My wife’s health has been challenging for the last few years. Along the way the doctors discovered a small tumor on the nerve between her ear and her brain. They call it an “acoustic neuroma.” It’s currently benign, and for that we are very grateful. And so we wait, and we wonder what will come of this. What does our future look like? Can we trust God while facing the likelihood of brain surgery?
While we wrestle with these thoughts, as the enemy assails us with fears and worries, we come back to one of my favorite sections of the book of Philippians, chapter 4:4-7.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This call to rejoice, this command to not give in to anxiety, and this promise of peace, they wash over me like a refreshing mist on a hot day. Or like a warm blanket that I can pull up over me on a cold winter night. They bring me hope, and yes, peace. These are not empty platitudes but stakes planted deep in the ground that are immovable and capable of holding us fast in the fiercest storm.
This is so because they are rooted in the Lord.
We aren’t simply to rejoice, but to rejoice in the Lord. It’s because the Lord is at hand that we can cast off our anxiety. It’s because the God who created the universe listens to my prayers (he listens to MY prayers!!!) that I can trust him with the future of my children. The fact that God grants us peace that seems unreasonable to the world is the only explanation for the fact that my wife can sing for joy in the face of an uncertain outcome for her health.
And I’m reminded that the man who wrote those words in Philippians is the Apostle Paul, that dear man who knew pain. He knew suffering, he knew persecution and beatings and being run out of town and an early death. This is the man who wrote these words. He didn’t write them apart from direct knowledge of hardship and severe trial, trials unlike anything I’ve ever known.
So in my weariness, after I’ve done all I can for my sons, after my wife and I have researched all the medical options at our disposal and we’ve exhausted all our resources, and we wonder about the future and whether God’s plans for us really are good, informed by Philippians 4 and an arsenal of other passages in this glorious book, we say emphatically YES.
God can be trusted.
For He is good.