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. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9
Consider the journey of a life-long widow. As a young Hebrew woman who lost her husband, it would have been the duty of her brother-in-law(s) and family to care for her, but there is no record of this. Although we don’t have details of Anna’s journey, we could imagine moments when she felt alone, overlooked, unloved, seemingly unnecessary, and perhaps anxious for how she will manage in a patriarchal world.
But, instead of playing the victim card, we see Anna leaning into a life dependent on the Holy Spirit and filled with worship. We’ve all known aging people who’ve become bitter and cynical with their lot in life, but Anna in her final years isn’t complaining about how she felt abandoned or wallowing in her shattered dreams. No! Anna is living intentionally on mission. She is fixing her gaze on her God through spiritual practices and hoping in the Messiah’s coming. We too, can rejoice in the Lord and worship him while we await his second coming!
Unfortunately, human Christ-followers can get bogged down into believing we are victims of our circumstances – especially when the devil plants thoughts in our anxious minds. We wonder if we’ve been abandoned or unloved by God. We get flustered looking around us for hope or some sense of security and control. We panic when we can’t seem to fix our own problems.
These anxious thoughts are the strategy of the Evil One to get us to think we are out-of-control and need his help. But, the truth is that Jesus is always in control. Jesus has already conquered sin, death, and the grave, and is coming again to make all things new. Put Philippians 4:4-9 into practice today by turning your anxious thoughts into hope-filled rejoicing in Jesus’s return. Turn to Revelation 19:11-22:5 to remind yourself to worship the one who is to come!
By Yvonne Biel