My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen-Bradford):
Last night, I sat and stared at the wall for forty minutes. Forty. Minutes. I was completely frozen. There were at least ten things I needed to do, all which were really important, but I couldn’t seem to jar myself loose from my stress trance to even complete one of them.
I just kept replaying over and over what I needed to do, why I was too tired to do it and what would fall apart, because I couldn’t get up enough energy to do it. I tried to triage them, but when I thought I’d found the most important task, I would find a reason another one needed to be the most important. I couldn’t even make a simple decision. Round and round I went, until finally, I just didn’t do anything.
Feeling foolish and embarrassed, I just collapsed on my bed and lay there until I went to sleep. I got nothing done.
“Anxiety” in Philippians 4:6 is transliterated from the Greek word “merimnáō”. It means to be drawn in opposite directions, distracted or divided into parts, to figuratively “go to pieces”. The stresses of life pull us in different directions. Our jobs pull us one direction, our families another and our money yet another. The list can be endless. This multi-directional pulling is a like a spiritual manifestation of a medieval torture device called a rack.
A person would be forced to lie on a flat wooden table, and each extremity would be anchored to rollers, both overhead and below the feet. The rollers would be slowly turned in opposite directions, causing enormous stress on the body until the inevitable occurred.
If you find yourself shackled to a spiritual rack, consider reflecting on Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Interestingly enough, the word “peace”, in verse 7, is transliterated as eiréné, which means proper wholeness, to tie together in wholeness.
I’ve heard so many sermons on this verse where the idea was “Pray and the problems will disappear”, but that’s not the message I receive when I read this scripture. If I were to rewrite this scripture in my own words, it would read:
“Don’t get into the spiritual torture rack for any reason! Instead, tell God everything, the good, bad and ugly. Ask for what you need, and let God pull you together when everything else falls apart. No one will be able to fathom it. That way your mind and heart will be protected.”
I like this message much better. My problems may not go away, but God is present and will hold me together as I go through each trial. Amen!
Prayer for the day: God, thank You for Your gift of peace; it is togetherness in times of division, safety in the midst of peril, clarity in core chaos. Help us to remember to reach to You in times of stress so that we may be held together, safe, in Your presence. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.