Summary: How can we find peace?
“The Remedy for Anxiety”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
What do you do to try and find some peace?
Some of us try and picture some tranquil place in our minds as a way of relaxing.
No doubt, we all have different images.
For some, it might be the serenity of a mountain cabin.
For others, it’s strolling on the beach.
Ah…that is peace…
Or here’s a good one.
You wake up and the alarm clock says it’s already past the time you usually wake up for work or school.
Panic sets in.
You dash to the bathroom, trying to brush your teeth, comb your hair, and get dressed all at the same time.
Then suddenly you remember: “It’s Saturday!!! I don’t have to go to work or school today.”
So, you crawl back into bed.
The sheets are still warm.
And you drift blissfully off to sleep.
Now, is that peace or what?
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning the Apostle Paul talks about a peace “which transcends all understanding.”
Paul has this peace…
…but Paul isn’t sitting in a mountain cabin or strolling down the beach…
…Paul is writing this from the solitude of a prison cell, and he had been there for a long time…
…his imprisonment dragged on for two years.
Yet, remarkably, Paul speaks of joy and peace!
“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.”
It’s interesting that Paul actually uses a military term here to describe “peace”.
A more literal translation would be that the “peace of God will stand sentry watch”…like a guard over your hearts and minds.
In Paul’s mind, peace doesn’t mean a time when there is no hardship or hostility.
After all, you don’t post guards on the city walls just for decoration.
A guard in the watchtower is evidence that the danger of being attacked is very real.
It’s not the absence of struggle that defines peace for Paul; it’s the presence of love.
It’s not strolling on the beach at sunrise; it’s being able to walk through a dark valley unafraid—knowing that, with every step, the Almighty walks beside us and before us!
That is why we can truly rejoice, insists Paul, because God’s peace is on patrol!
Whatever troubles arise, whatever challenges await, the God Who neither slumbers nor sleeps is vigilantly standing guard.
That’s not to say that we won’t ever encounter adversity.
There is always the possibility of an unforeseen threat lurking out there in the shadows.
Paul isn’t naïve.
Nor is Paul insisting on a policy of casual indifference.
What he is saying is that we no longer have to tiptoe around, wringing our hands and nervously scanning the horizon.
We should be alert, yes; but not anxious.
Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything…”
Paul is not talking here about the anxiety that many of us have to cope with due to some kind of medical condition or chemical imbalance in our brains.
Science has come a long way in helping us overcome inborn anxiety disorders through therapy and medication.
The kind of anxiety Paul is referring to comes to us needlessly when we take things into our own hands.
We are to have a constant conscious dependence upon Christ for everything!!!
And this means that we must be in the continual and intentional motion of surrendering all to God!!!
When a problem comes our way, seek God.
When we don’t have the answers, seek God.
When we are trying to figure out which way to turn, seek God.
When we are in a troubling situation, and we don’t know how to handle it—seek God—surrender to God!!!
When we have made a mistake…
…or if we don’t even know we have made a mistake…
…but we are not at peace…
…seek and surrender to God!!!
By prayer and petition…
…by prayer and petition!!!
During this Advent season we sing “Joy to the World,” but do we really believe it?
The economy is causing many of us to wonder how we will pay for Christmas presents for our children.
Many of us worry about our health, or about where our next meal will come from.
Some of us worry about how we will “keep up with the Jones.”
Paul stresses that we can take everything to God in prayer!!!
As it has been beautifully put: “There is nothing too great for God’s power; and nothing too small for God’s care.”