Good Reason in Bad Times
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7, ESV)
Is the coronavirus a pandemic? Since I am not an expert on infectious disease, I will refrain from that part of the conversation. But as I glance through the news and social media frenzy, we all are being impacted in some way, including where we play golf, go to church, travel, and eat.
In general, I am not an anxious person. I am grateful for my calm demeanor and probably don’t take enough precautions as I travel around the country, often believing I am invincible when it comes to getting sick. In the past, where anxious thoughts and feelings spun around inside me most was on the fairways of competitive golf (where I still play from time to time). But if I am feeling anxious in this season of my life, it is because I am juggling too many things and not giving myself enough margin to rest.
At first glance through today’s scripture, it might seem that Paul was giving us a formula to take away our anxious thoughts: pray with thanksgiving and all will be well and easy. This is not what Paul was saying. While we live here in the gap between this broken world and waiting for our Savior (Philippians 3:21), Paul said to let our “reasonableness be known to everyone.” This translates to offering gentleness and compassion to others, not anxiety.
When I was playing full-time, I wrote these verses on the inside of my yardage book to remind me to choose peace over-anxious thoughts as I walked the fairways. I whispered “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus” hundreds of times during my tenure on tour. It wasn’t magic, but as the words washed over me, I was able to remain more reasonable in both conduct and thought. This was good for my well-being and for my witness to others.
The apostle Paul had many reasons to be anxious—imprisonment, sickness, shipwrecks, beatings, rejection, and more. Yet, despite his troubles, Paul leaned on the Lord in his own life and encouraged all to take their requests to God with thanksgiving. We may not receive the answers we desire, but we can count on the peace that surpasses all understanding. The Lord Jesus is at hand, he is present, and he will help.
During this anxious time of unknowns with the coronavirus, let us be reasonable—gentle and full of mercy, remaining dependent on God, and lifting up our prayers with thanksgiving.
Be smart, not anxious. Be reasonable and allow the peace of our sweet Jesus to saturate your heart and mind.
March 12, 2020
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