Q. With all of the scandals coming from Washington, coupled with the turmoil in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, it seems like “life as we know it” is about to make a dramatic shift. As a Christian, husband and father, this kind of stuff scares me to death. I know that the “textbook” answers are “God will provide,” “trust God,” etc…, but I also see stories every day about tons of Christians martyred for their faith. I know that I’m not supposed to fear “those that can only destroy the body,” but I still do. That said, how would you advise me to stay calm and trust God with all of this going on? Don’t get me wrong. I WANT to, but I’m still human.
A. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul was writing to people who weren’t just fearful of the possibility of persecution, they were actually experiencing it. Because the guilds and trade unions in Philippi were all dedicated to pagan gods, becoming a Christian meant losing one’ s job as well as friends and family. Also, non-Christians saw this new faith as a threat to the peace and prosperity of the city and tried to suppress it by any means possible. In advising the suffering Church of Philippi Paul wrote the following,
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 every situation, 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 (Phil. 4:4-7).
(A friend once paraphrased this passage as follows; “Be fearful of nothing, pray about everything, be thankful for anything.”)
Paul then went on to teach them the power of positive thinking. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
With all the bad news in the headlines today, it’s easy to become discouraged. To combat this we have to encourage ourselves by purposely feeding our minds information of a more uplifting nature. There’s nothing better for this than the promises of God as revealed through His word.