"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:4-7
I had a couple of medical emergencies this week that could have been anxiety producing. No, not me personally, but one was a family member and one was church family. They were two very different medical issues. One was life-threatening and the other wasn't but involved a toddler, so that is emotionally loaded.
We are rejoicing for happy endings in both situations. With the toddler emergency - saying it ended well has particular significance because she passed a metal hair clip she had swallowed. There was concern that with the size of her and the size of it there might be a serious injury develop. But, this too passed!
But looking back on both emergencies I can say that even under the pressure and uncertainty of the moment, there was a spirit of hope and trust. In the back of ambulances, waiting in emergency rooms, or lying in intensive care units, there was a strong sense that God is in control and our concerns don't need to degenerate to anxiety. Unsure of the outcomes, there was certainy about Who was in control of the outcomes. Faith and hope trumped fear and panic in both instances.
I think that is what Paul is talking about in this admonition. While no one in either situation declared, "Thank you God for this medical emergency! I praise you that I get to ride in an ambulance and that my loved one's life is at risk!" That would be a little creepy! But there certainly was a strong sense of peace and assurance that God had allowed these events to transpire and He was firmly in control of each.
It is during these moments while you are doing the responsible, appropriate and necessary things in response to an emergency that you realize how much your faith means. Those moments when you start to feel like you're alone, you realize you aren't! While people around you are panicking, you become aware of a peace. At precisely the time you feel weak, you find a strength that is not your own!
We experienced all those things this week. Two unexpected emergencies brought us back in touch with the value of our faith and the reality of our God. True, we weren't rejoicing in the midst of those crises, but there was a joy! And now that both have been resolved we do rejoice in a God who is faithful, present, powerful and full of compassion!
And one more note of rejoicing is that in addition to all these aforementioned blessings of our faith we experience ourselves, we are surrounded by a community of believers who know the same things!
So, don't give way to anxiety today. Regardless of what you face today - whether planned or totally unexpected, God has it covered, He has you covered and He has you surrounded by dozens just like you! Rejoice! And I say, rejoice!