Study 8 HEAVEN’S CURE FOR EARTH’S CARE
(Scripture Portion: Philippians 4: 1-9)
“Heaven’s cure for earth’s care” is, according to Philippians 4:7, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” “The peace of God” (verse 7) is the remedy that “the God of peace” (verse 9) offers for corroding care, anxiety, fear and worry.
The difficulties and uncertainties of life have always afforded men and women abundant opportunities for worry, but never have the temptations to worry and anxiety been so great as in the days in which we are living. On every hand there is confusion, suffering and loss, and the words of our Saviour are being fulfilled Luke 21:26. But the true child of God, the one who is “in the Lord” (verse 1), and whose name is in “the book of life” (verse 3), should not be overcome with the distressing maladies of fear and worry, yet many of us are!
With some of us, our fears and anxieties arise from experiences which have to do with the past, maybe years ago; others are anxious, fretful and worried about the future, about old age, health or finance; and still others are over-burdened with care about the present. Many of our fears are imaginary, and many of the things we worry about never happen! For the Christian, fear, anxiety and worry are useless, unnecessary, unseemly and even sinful.
- It is useless for a Christian to worry, to be fearful or to be anxious. See what our Lord said about this – Matthew 6:25-27. What do our worries and fears accomplish? Nothing! Nothing accumulates so quickly as worry, which is why it is positively dangerous. It harms us physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically, it can destroy our digestion, send up our blood pressure, cause insomnia, paralyse our body and seriously affect our heart. “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
- It is unnecessary for a Christian to worry, to be fearful or to be anxious. Why? Because we have a heavenly Father who is all-powerful and all-loving, who knows what His children need and who is able to supply that need (Matthew 6:28-32). And where is this loving heavenly Father? Verse 5 tells us that He is “near”, and though this reference may refer to the Second Advent, it most certainly also refers to the presence of the Lord – Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5.
- It is unseemly for a Christian to worry, to be fearful or to be anxious. It is, of course, a lack of trust. A worrying Christian is a contradiction – look up 1 Peter 5:7. This may be literally translated, “It matters to Him about you”. How unworthy it is for a Christian to worry!
What then is the cure for anxiety and fear? Many psychological remedies are offered, and some of these are helpful, but none of them goes to the root of the problem. God’s prescription contains three ingredients, and these are mentioned in Philippians 4:6; they may be stated thus: (1) Be careful for nothing; (2) be prayerful for everything; (3) be thankful for anything.
1. BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING
This does not mean we are to be thoughtless, but it does mean that we are not to be overcome with excessive care and anxiety. This is God’s command, just as Exodus 20:15 is His command. “But”, you say, “it is no use to say to someone who is filled with care and anxiety, ‘Don’t be afraid! Don’t worry!'” You are right. It is no use for a doctor or a psychiatrist or a preacher to say, “Don’t worry!” but it is very different when God says it, for when He says, “In nothing be anxious”, it means that He has the remedy and He offers the power to effect our deliverance.
2. BE PRAYERFUL FOR EVERYTHING
Verse 6 tells us, “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”, and “everything” means “every thing”. Have you ever brought your fear or your worry to God in a definite way and asked Him to remove it?
- “By prayer” means not just talking about it, but actually praying.
- “and petition”. This includes the idea of earnest intensity. Surely, if worry and anxiety are so destructive to us, our prayers for deliverance from these ‘demons’ should be earnest and urgent!
- “present your requests to God”, and this implies definiteness. We are not to pray in a general sense but in a specific sense.
3. BE THANKFUL FOR ANYTHING
Verse 6 says, “In everything…with thanksgiving…” But surely there are some things for which we cannot be thankful? Are there? Does anything ever happen by chance in your life or without God’s loving permission? Is Romans 8:28 really true? then we can and should thank God for anything and everything. Compare verse 4 and verses 11-12 in this chapter. Praise will soon chase away worry.
Now notice the result of mixing together these three ingredients in God’s prescription – verse 7: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Notice:-
- The certainty of this peace – “will”
- The quality of this peace – “of God.” Can you conceive of God being worried, flustered or fearful?
- The nature of this peace – “transcends all understanding.” It is beyond logical explanation, but not beyond personal experience.
- The appropriateness of this peace – “will guard your hearts and minds.” God’s peace will mount guard like a sentinel to keep away fear, worry and anxiety from our heart and mind – the two places where they seek to enter (Isaiah 26:3).
- The channel of this peace – “in Christ Jesus.” We have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1 and Colossians 1:20), and the peace of God through Him (John 14:27 and Romans 15:13).
It is in Christ Himself that we find “heaven’s cure for earth’s care.”