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Thanksgiving over Fear

“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.”   (Philippians 4:6-7)

This is one of my all-time favorite verses.  And for years I just read it this way:  “Don’t be anxious, tell God what you need and the peace of God comes.”  That seemed so easy and so wonderful.  I don’t have to worry because I can just tell God what I need and He takes care of it.  And then one day my eyes opened to another part of that verse:  “with thanksgiving.”  What???  Thank God for the circumstances I am in?  How does that happen?  I am not happy about my circumstances.  I just need God to fix things.

But then I tried it.  I’m not saying thank God for the cancer or the divorce or the loss of a job.  The Scripture doesn’t say thank God for the evil in the world or the fear in our heart, but we are to have an attitude of thanksgiving. What if we viewed life like these two little ones, just happy to enjoy a pit of corn and a kitten, without a care in the world!

This will tell a little about my age, but I remember the images on the TV from Vietnam and the fear that stirred up in a young girl.  I remember hearing the stories that caused me to worry at night about the Cold War.  I remember 3-mile Island and the fears associated with nuclear fall-out. I remember fall-out shelters everywhere.  I have a vivid memory of the local story of a cruel murder of an elementary school girl raped and murdered on her way home from school in my hometown.  She was just a few years younger than me.  I still remember her name and still remember lying awake in bed at night trembling in fear that I might be the next victim. I remember staying in a hotel in New York City on a work trip and watching the news about the local “Hotel Ax Murderer.”   I remember being told my twin children were being placed on ventilators shortly after birth as their lungs were not fully developed.  Fear was so real.  The words, “I don’t love you anymore, I want a divorce.”  A drought that wipes out a corn crop or a disease that destroys a pumpkin patch.  My mom’s diagnosis with leukemia.    The enemy comes in like a thief to steal our hope, to fill us with fear.  And now in 2020, a virus, world pandemic.  The stock market is unstable; people are losing income and trying to figure out what to do with school children while they work.  Here comes the threat of fear once again.

And today I declare it is only a threat of fear.  And the only way the fear will become real is if we let it.  But I know the reasons for our fears are real.  Many of us might not be afraid of getting the virus.  Others have health issues and are gravely concerned.  We all experience some kind of fear of the impact—the stores are empty of essentials.  We don’t know how we will care for children while we work.  We wonder about the products made overseas that might no longer be available.  As business owners we are threatened by what will happen to our source of income when everyone stays home.  We are afraid of the “what if’s…..”  But what if…we applied Philippians 4:6 to our circumstances?

What if we stopped to thank God for Who He is?  What if we thanked God for the fact that He already has a solution for this pandemic and economic turmoil?  What if we thanked God for the leaders at the World Health Organization and our medical care facilities?  What if we thanked God for the opportunity to spend a little more time with our families?  What if we thanked God for the opportunity to learn how to better steward our resources?  What if we just thanked God for Jesus and the ability to talk to Him in prayer?  What if we thanked God for the ability to offer our fears over to Him, trusting that He cares for us?

I realize that as some of you read this, your circumstances seem overwhelming.  You may be so shaken that you can’t focus to pray.  Just try saying “thank you Jesus” over and over.  Tell a friend who will pray for you that you need their prayers.  And don’t give up.  Keep thanking God and keep laying your requests before God and wait for His peace.  The verse doesn’t say He will necessarily fix the circumstance but He will give you peace.  (which is the absence of fear).  And He won’t fail you.  You will move past this current circumstance.

And for some of you, Jesus just isn’t real to you.  You have never prayed and you don’t know how to pray.  But can I tell you, you are real to Him.  And you are loved by Him.  So maybe just from your heart, say “Jesus I need you.  Would you make yourself real to me and show me Who You are?”  Find an online Bible if you don’t have one and read the book of John.  Read it together with your family.  And ask Jesus to make Himself real to you.  Ask a believing friend to explain their faith to you and what it means to let Jesus into your life.  Maybe now is the time for you understand the gift of freedom that He has for you.

And then, because we care, if you have a real fear or if you want to understand faith in Jesus, would you share your need with us?  People often say when they visit the farm that they just feel the peace here.  It’s Jesus.  He is invited to be here and He provides that peace.  We trust Him to care for us and to make a way even in the midst of circumstances that can cause real fear.  We may not be able to offer the perfect words of comfort or a solution to your circumstance, but we can pray and we will.  And we can thank God for you and for your willingness to reach out and trust Him for the peace that exceeds all understanding.

God is good and His plans for your life are for good and not for evil.  Trust Him.  Thank Him.  Praise Him.  We are praying for you!

“Thank you Jesus for what you have done, what you are doing and what you will do in each of us!  We love you.  Amen”