It was in March of this year that my wife called out to me from across the apartment. I walked curiously down the hall to discover what my wife was so excited about. I found her in the bathroom with a look of shock on her face. “I’m pregnant” she said. What then began to transpire in me was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I was excited that the Lord had blessed us with having a child, but I was honestly nervous if we were ready for all that entailed. It wasn’t long before my wife was in the full swing of the first trimester of pregnancy, morning sickness and all. I felt so sorry for her that I began to develop some signs of sympathy pains. Everything smelt bad to my wife, even good smells. Then one night she got so dehydrated I had to take her to the hospital to get IV’s placed in her so she could get hydrated. Some of you may have had children and know exactly what I’m talking about.
This being our first child, all of this was completely new to us. This naturally aroused some level of anxiety if everything was going well for our child. Then came the day when we got our first ultrasound image of our baby. We immediately fell in love when we saw it. Then came the day when we found out we were having a boy. Deedre cried and I lifted my hands in the air and shouted as if I had just won the Super Bowl! The last ultrasound we got we were able to see our little boys face. Friends, I want to tell you that seeing our little boys face, didn’t take away some of the aches and pains that my wife has been through, but it gave us so much joy and peace to know that we expect to have our son in our arms very soon. It gave us peace to know he was ok. You see by focusing our attention on our son, it made enduring all that pregnancy brings more tolerable. My wife and I now spend time in prayer everyday being thankful for the life of our son. We pray for his health and for him to be set apart for God’s purposes. Through all of the ups and downs of pregnancy and the increasing Braxton Hicks contractions, being grateful for the life of our son and the joy of anticipating his arrival has brought us much peace.
Some of you may be going through some of the ups and downs of life right now. And what you are going through may be causing you some anxiety right now. As a matter of fact you may be wondering how you will ever be able to get through the trial you’re in. Today, Jesus wants to reveal to you an essential ingredient that is necessary for you to experience His peace through whatever trials you are facing. This essential ingredient is found in Philippians 4:6-7.
The apostle Paul writes the letter to the church in Philippi while he is in prison in Rome. The church that he is writing to is a church that has been experiencing suffering and trials for their faith. Yet the ironic thing is that even though Paul was experiencing trials of his own, he continued to encourage this church to rejoice in the midst of trials. This theme of joy in the midst of trials permeates this entire letter. It is in this letter that Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
But, how can Paul be talking about rejoicing in the midst of what he and the church was facing? Isn’t it normal to be anxious in the face of trial and uncertainty? Well let’s hear what the Spirit is saying through Paul to the church in Philippi in chapter 4 verse 6…
Paul is saying, that we shouldn’t allow anything to keep us in a place of anxiety. He is basically telling us what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34, that we are not to worry about anything. But is this realistic? How does God expect us not to get anxious or worried? Especially when we face suffering, trials and anxiety. Paul says it is possible. He says in everything you face, make your regular habit to be to first go to God in pray and supplication. Take your anxieties and your worries to God! But don’t miss an essential ingredient to this prayer experience. Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving! Jesus wants you to know that…
Thankfulness is essential to experiencing God’s peace through trials
Every so often, during the pregnancy, Deedre and I would have what we thought was a scare. So we would go to the OBGYN with all of our concerns. And she would just smile at us and say, “You may be feeling terrible, but the baby is doing fine.” She began to say this so often to Deedre, that it almost sounded like a broken record. But overtime we left her office thankful that we had a healthy little boy. Now, every time the baby makes a move in Deere’s tummy, no matter how uncomfortable it can be, we are grateful that our little prince is alive and well. This focus on our son has given us much peace through this pregnancy.
You see Paul is saying, “In your prayer time, present your requests to God. Let Him know what you need. But don’t forget to be thankful.” And if there is anything to be thankful to God for, it is His Son! Oh, there are many other things to be grateful to God for. Health, food, shelter, professional success and much more. God is at work in our lives, in spite of what we are going through and He deserves our thanks. But the greatest thing for us to thank God for giving us is eternal life through His Son Jesus! Paul is saying that we avoid anxiety by praying first, making our requests known to Him and thanking Him. He says this will cause you to experience the peace of God which passes all understanding. This the same peace we get when we have accepted the gospel. Paul says in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our peace comes from being thankful to God for the grace He has given us through His Son! When your heart is at rest in the fact that God loves you and has saved you by the blood of His Son, the Holy Spirit begins to pour into you a peace that passes all understanding. People who see you going through the trials you are going through will wonder how you are able to have such peace.
I’ve personally experienced this peace through my daily devotional habits. I spend an hour reading through the bible. Then, no matter what I’ve read for the day, I look for a picture of Jesus and Him crucified. Then I go for a prayer walk. When I’m on that prayer walk I spend time meditating on what I read. Then, in my prayer time, I spend time thanking God for the gift of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross for me, based on what I saw in the reading. This focus on being regularly thankful for the gift of God’s Son has revolutionized my devotional life. It has given me so much peace. This daily experience is so vital to me, that I don't feel ready to face any aspect of my day unless I have had this time with God, thanking Him for His Son. How much time do you spend thanking God for the gift of His Son. Not only has He paid the penalty for your sin, but Paul begins his letter to the Philippian church by saying that Jesus will complete the work He has begun in you until the end.
He says if you will pray with thanksgiving, you will have a peace that passes understanding. And this peace will guard you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. What is it guarding your hearts and minds from? I believe he is saying it will guard you from being anxious.
So instead of being wrapped up in worry and anxiety, why don’t you fix your mind on Jesus. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” If you want to experience a peace that passes all understanding that will carry you through whatever your going through, spend time in prayer, being thankful for the Son.
My son’s due date is November 20th. He will be born just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Therefore I will have a Thanksgiving baby. Obviously, this Thanksgiving I will have a lot to be thankful for. I will be thankful for the gift of my son. But even more so, I will be thankful for the gift of the Son He gave to save me.
"CJ" CLAYPOLE S. COUSINS JR., IS SIMPLY A MAN WHO IS IN LOVE WITH JESUS. HIS PASSION IS TO LIVE, PREACH AND TEACH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. IN ADDITION TO PREACHING & TEACHING, CJ ALSO LOVES TO SING AND WRITE ABOUT JESUS.