Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The advice that the Apostle Paul gives the early church in Philippi sounds absolutely preposterous. As I write this devotion, it's Super Tuesday in the year 2020, there is increasing anxiety swirling in the media about COVID-19, and Nashville was pummeled by a tornado last night. If you're not worried - at least to some degree - you must not be paying attention! It's easy to think that Paul must have been clueless as to what it would be like to live today. Otherwise, how could he present the early church - and us - with this kind of perpetual advice? If this is how you feel about this passage, I totally get it - but for the sake of finding some beautiful truth in which you can rest... read on.
As tempting as it may be to be dismissive of Paul's words and right to speak into our 21st century lives with all of their politics, disease, and fragility... we shouldn't. Paul did not write to Philippi naievely. He wrote to them from prison. In the midst of a culture that celebrated sexual violence, devalued human life, and openly persecuted people to the point of death over their religious beliefs... I'd say Paul knew a thing or two about what it felt like for the air to be thick with evil and for life to be filled to the brim with reasonable reasons to worry.
And yet... Paul invites the Church into the peace that He has discovered as a result of separating the brokenness of the world from the goodness of God. The world can be broken and God can be good. That's actually the point; that humanity has fallen to sin and built around us a world that is crumbling from evil and death, but God is persistently meeting us in the rubble, scooping us up, holding us close, and helping us breathe.
When Christ was led to the cross, He didn't turn and run. He could have. When He was bleeding and sweating and gasping for air, He did not heal Himself. He could have.
...And when He lay lifeless and alone in a tomb, He didn't stay there. That He could never have done.
He didn't run away from the end of His life he ran towards it because it wasn't the end. He didn't run away from sin, He ran right into the middle of it so that he could blow it up from the inside. He doesn't run away from us, He runs towards us, but we meet Him faster if we're running towards Him too.
When Paul says "don't worry about a thing," what He means is: Remember that Jesus is running towards you. Whatever is coming your way, He is running faster. And there's a peace to be found when you run towards Him too. You know that euphoria you feel after a really great, long run on a crisp, sunny afternoon? Like that, but better.
Don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Every prayer is a step in your sprint towards your Savior, so pray often. Persist in your prayers even when they sting. Pray furiously. Pray until you're out of breath. Until your heart is racing and your legs give out. There's peace there, because He is there.