Saturday, November 5, 2011

Philippians 4 & wrap-up

I am a week behind, so I'll use this post to briefly discuss Philippians 4 from last week combined with thoughts from the whole study. Although I didn't get around to writing a post, I did read and meditate on the chapter the past 2 weeks and thought about how it applies during a frustrating couple of weeks where we have been trying to figure out if Janie has a food allergy (i.e., trying 10 million formulas, going back to breast milk, trying to figure out what makes her feel the best, learning what immediately makes her sick, trying to determine just which of the zillion things we fed her caused the seriously intense meltdown she had, etc.). Two verses have stuck with me throughout all of this.

The first is verse 5:
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

My study Bible says that the word "gentleness" "identifies a person who manifests a calmness and fairness of spirit. A person who is gentle is willing to sacrifice his or her own personal rights to show consideration to others" (The Nelson Study Bible, copyright 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.). I had never really thought about it before, but I guess someone who is gentle would be someone who does not put her own needs above those of others. Once again, I find this study pointing me to the need for selflessness, which becomes more apparent the longer I'm, well, a parent (haha! couldn't resist.). I feel like God must be trying to get me to be less selfish during this season in my life and is using this study to point that out.

The other part I keep coming back to is, surprise surprise, verses 6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

These two verses have been important in my life for a long time. Each season of life has its own causes for worry and concern, so I find these verses to be relevant at all times. As I'm trying to learn how to be a good mother to Janie, I find myself worrying and feeling guilty about anything that is wrong with her, immediately assuming that I have done something to cause her pain or discomfort. I keep reading these verses over and reminding myself that we are told to be anxious for NOTHING... even those things that seem like reasonable things to be anxious about, like the health of my child. Then I think of all the horrible things that people go through in life and am in awe that even in the worst tragedies and scariest circumstances, we are still to be free from anxiety and full of thanksgiving. This is so hard for me to grasp. Only the awesome God we serve could make it possible to be anxious for nothing. I think I have tended to think of this verse as a reprimand since I am such a worrier, but as I get older, I'm realizing that God isn't just shaking His finger at me every time I'm worrying. We serve a God of compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3) who became human so that He could fully experience the trials of living on this earth, and no one on earth ever has or ever will have as great a cause for anxiety as He did. I'm starting to think that rather than reprimanding me not to worry, which I certainly do need at times, He is compassionate and understands our pain when we worry. He genuinely wants us to to live lives free from anxiety and to

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
--Matthew 11:28-30

As guilty as I sometimes feel for worrying, and probably rightly so, when I consider that we are to be anxious for absolutely NOTHING--even super duper horrible awful things--I realize that this is not just a matter of me needing to shake it off and logic myself out of worry; sometimes we find ourselves in situations which, apart from the grace of God, genuinely do merit worry. Thus, living a worry-free life is a feat that can only be accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit in me. As in all things, I can't do it on my own. I need Him. This realization brings me full circle to the earlier part of this study in Philippians 1:6:
...that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

and Philippians 2:12-13:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

The main things I got out of this study are a little different than what I saw at first glance. After reading and studying the book of Philippians, I feel like God has used it to show me that I need to be more selfless and to rejoice (not worry, grumble, or complain) always in the Lord, but He has also shown me my desperate need for a Savior to do this mighty work in me. I have a very long way to go and feel so "unfinished," but praise God that He is up for the task!

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