Philippians 4:4-7 NIV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
These were the first verses I ever memorized after I became a Christian, and boy, have they been put to good use in the years since! I loved listening to our guest speaker and one of my early mentors Pastor John Ortberg unpack these verses last weekend. (I used to listen to his messages over and over on my cassette player!) He reminded us that Jesus did not live a peaceful life, but he always lived at peace. I think we all realize it’s impossible to live without conflict, difficulty, and sorrow. But if we focus on God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to abide in the peace offered through Jesus and his example.
When feelings of discomfort, fear, and insecurity come—and they will—Ortberg said to “own them, not enthrone them.” OWN is the acronym he used.
O – Observe It
What is going on in your mind? Pay attention to what’s going on between your ears and ask yourself some questions:
- What am I saying to myself about this particular situation?
- What am I saying to others?
- What is the truth about this situation?
- How do I feel about it?
- Is what I’m feeling the truth?
These are really important questions. As I go through this exercise, sometimes I have to give myself a time-out until I get to the bottom of my feelings and assess their validity. Feelings don’t go away by stuffing them. As Andy Stanley has said, those stuffed feelings go into the basement of our hearts and lift weights until they emerge much stronger and more destructive than they started out!
W – Welcome It
James 1:2-4 NIV
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Our trials are not going to go away while we live on planet Earth, so look at them as an opportunity to grow and to learn. No one wants their faith tested, just as no one wants to work out for an hour every day. But those who willingly enter into that discipline know that the pain results in gain!
N – Name It
Name it for what it is. Ortberg reminds us that the psalmists were really good at naming pain—theirs and ours. So many of the psalms begin by crying out to God about poor circumstances: grief, illness, abandonment, physical pain, loss of friends and loved ones.
Similarly, we should name our feelings and share them with God. Take the time to write out your grievances and tell it like it is, just as you’re feeling it—the unfairness, the fear, the joblessness, the loneliness. Write your lament, or find a Psalm that is reflective of your feelings. You will find, almost without exception, that those laments turn into remembrances, and even celebrations of who God is.
So in your trials, remember to name the God who is with you, the God of peace. Pray your words to God, and thank him, knowing he is with you, he hears you, he is for you, and he is good. Then rest there with him. He will give you peace, no matter what your circumstances may be.
When trouble comes, what is your first response? Do you pray as a first or last resort?
Use OWN to work through the problems confronting you today. Observe what it is, welcome it, and name it. Then look in the back of your Bible (or do a word search in your Bible app) to see where that feeling or problem appears in Scriptures. Read those passages, and let the Spirit of God speak to you through them. Abide with those thoughts, and thank God for his presence in your life’s circumstances.
Check out this week’s LivingItOut Podcast as our Lead Pastor Ben Snyder leads a roundtable discussion on patience.
Heavenly Father, forgive me that prayer is not usually my first response to the challenges of my life. But thank you for always being present for me. Help me to believe that you are for me and will never forsake me. Thank you for the gift of peace that dwells with you in my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.
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