“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:8-9, NIV
We beg God to give us peace. We pray repeatedly for his amity to wash over our minds and hearts. We pray that he would be present in our difficult times. We ask for God’s comfort. I do exactly this. The second all of life starts piling up on me like crazy, I immediately turn to God and pray for his peace and presence. Let us be real though: seldom does relief wash over us the moment we pray for it. In fact, some times we are praying this consistently in an entire day or week and it still has yet to wash over us. (In a nutshell, this is what my past week felt like. I honestly started to wonder why I was not able to feel the truths I knew.)
It is wildly important to recognize that the LORD is the only one who can give us true peace. It is pertinent that we turn to God in these times of trouble. This habit of immediately taking advantage of prayer is good. But I believe there is more to it than a prayer for all-encompassing comfort and rest. I believe it takes a little bit of work on our end to get to the place where we experience and are one with the truths we know.
Let us take note of Philippians 4:8-9. This verse ends with the phrase “And the God of peace will be with you”. Okay there must be some insanely important information prior to that phrase—information that will lead us to the true peace we seek! Because whatever it says or instructs, it ends with the God of peace being present among us, present in me.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And THEN AFTER THINKING GOD-CENTERED THOUGHTS AND PUTTING INTO ACTION GOD-CENTERED WAYS OF LIVING the God of peace will be with you,” (Emphasis and additional phrasing mine).
All too often we beg for his peace without actually seeking it. I personally have been demanding peace without having first re-directed my mind to the way of Christ (hash tag guilty). It was only just yesterday that I recognized all of this. I had been at work, calling my husband on my breaks, wondering why I could not seem to find peace among life’s chaos. On one phone call, he read this verse to me. I pulled it up on my phone and kept re-reading it, digesting what it meant. I have to take action. I need to own my thoughts. I need to choose to focus on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. When I am able to focus on these things, I am brought to praising God for his goodness. Re-directing my mind takes it off the pain of the present and helps me to say, “there is goodness, even here”. Then, with a mind focused upon Christ, I am able to continue forward living in a godly manner. I take the truths I have meditated upon, and work at practicing them. I start to act upon and live within God’s truth, without letting myself get in the way. Then, with my thoughts sharp and actions on point, the God of peace meets me. He is with me.
When your world feels unstable or things around you are drastically changing, it is difficult to concentrate on that which is excellent or praiseworthy. Sometimes it even becomes impossible to come up with an example of a good thing. Our minds can become so crowded with negativity, pain, sadness, or anger that there doesn’t seem to be any room for beauty and light. (If you need an exercise: share with someone three good truths you know and ask for him or her to tell you three good truths). But I would like to remind you of something that is always lovely, and always praiseworthy – God. God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good. So re-direct yourself towards his goodness. Fill your mind with all things good and allow this to embolden positive action. And then the God of peace will be with you!
Devotional written by Heather Christy. Graphic designed by Daniel Christy.