Our anxiety is an opportunity for God to give us his peace.
The anxiety you feel right now is an opportunity for God to show you how his peace can still come out of you and overcome the anxiety you feel.
His presence of peace in you is greater than the anxiety coming from the circumstances around you.
Certainly keep asking God to change your circumstances, but my experience is, God wants to often times teach me how to have peace in the adverse circumstances of my life. Why? I believe, because the circumstances create an opportunity for me to get to know Jesus better. And isn’t that what life is all about? To know Jesus?
How do you and I work out the peace of God in our lives that is already working inside of us?
The apostle Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 2:12 to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
How do you and I do that?
It begins with fear and trembling.
Paul begins verse 12 with “therefore” or “in light of.” Paul is telling them to do what Christ did in the previous verses in Philippians 2:1–11. What did Christ do?
Philippians 2:1–11 tells us that Christ emptied himself. He emptied himself of his will and made himself completely receptive to God’s will.
He tells them to “work out their salvation.” That means he wants us to work out what we do to ourselves. We fill ourselves with worry and anxiety. God wants us to work in what he does for us. He gives us peace. What’s your work-out plan to rid yourself of the anxiety you are going through right now?
How do we work out what God has already worked in us?
You can’t work out what isn’t in there already. We can’t work out salvation inside of us if it isn’t inside of us. We have to first accept Christ as our Savior. Then the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us to help us work out this salvation. Does the Holy Spirit live inside of you? You might say, “I don’t know.” Have you given your life to Jesus? If yes, then the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.
Working out your salvation is not possible if you have not accepted Christ as your Savior. But once you have, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you and then with his partnership you can work out your salvation. You can experience practically in your everyday life the unlimited resources of peace, joy and hope that accompany the Holy Spirit’s presence inside of you.
None of us have this life of faith all figured out. We are all in a process of growing or declining but we never stay stagnant, we are always going one direction or the other.
What is your wake-up call right now? Is it cancer, COVID, long-term unemployment, a painful loss, a betrayal, uncertainty in your future in some area? God wants us to work this out with fear and trembling.
The “fear and trembling” Paul is referring to is the attitude Christians are to have in pursuing this goal. We are to have a healthy fear of offending God through disobedience and an awe and respect for his majesty and holiness.
How we act right now as followers of Jesus will greatly impact our internal peace.
Fear and trembling simply means, approach God with humility and ask him for his peace to be increased to a greater measure than the anxiety you are experiencing. Say to him, “Lord, I humbly ask for your peace to be increased in me. I need it Lord to get through my day. Please help me Lord.”
And guess what? God will. God promises us in Philippians 2:13 that he is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. This is a promise.
If you ask God for an increased measure of his peace, he will give it to you. As you wait for God to increase your peace, don’t get caught up in complaining, grumbling or disputing with him or others. Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:14 to do all things without grumbling.
If you are going to experience God’s peace you have to stop complaining long enough to obey him and wait patiently for him to move.
Why does God want us to do what he is asking us to do? Obedience triggers greater peace in our lives and greater peace triggers greater effectiveness for us as witnesses for Christ. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:15 that obedience brings blamelessness into our lives in the midst of a crooked and twisted world and this enables our light for him to shine brighter.
You know what is amazing about you working out your peace by being obedient to Christ? It creates an innocence in you that becomes attractive to others and begins to impact other believers and nonbelievers to see in you something they want.
When I talk with people right now who are in great unrest and anxiety—which is a lot of people right now—they say, “Aren’t you worried?” I say, “Well, I see the concerns, but I believe God’s got it and if he wants me to do anything about it, he will let me know, and I will do it. Otherwise, it is my job to pray and support others who are to do something about it.”
If God is not asking me to fight a battle then Paul tells me my job in Philippians 2:16 is to simply hold fast to the word of life, God’s Word.
We have to hold on to God’s Word, be in God’s Word and apply God’s Word to our lives if we hope to maintain any sense of peace in this world.
What does it mean to hold fast to God’s Word?
“Holding fast” in the Bible literally means to hold your position, or fix your gaze and not lose sight of. So, if we hold fast to God’s Word we are fixing our gaze on God by reading his Word and applying it to our lives regardless of our circumstances.
You might say, “Yeah, but what if it gets really bad? What if it costs me my life to follow Christ?”
Paul says in Philippians 2:17 that even if we are to be poured out as a drink offering, meaning even if it costs me my life, it is worth it.
We saw a group of people storm the Capitol building a few weeks ago. It cost five people their lives. One was a police officer trying to defend the Capitol building and protect those in Congress. It cost him his life. His name: Officer Brian D. Sicknick. I don’t believe his death was in vain. He did what he had been commissioned to do and he did it with bravery for our nation. He is a hero.
Let me just say this, protecting our country is important, extremely important. There are few things more important. But following Jesus and giving your life for Jesus is more important than anything you can do with your life for our country. We need to live for Jesus like Officer Brian did in trying to protect the Capitol building.
Peace is born out of sacrifice, not control.
We need to live for Jesus regardless of what it costs us.