This post is part of the series A Heavenly Peace
We are currently living in difficult times. With everything going on, you may be feeling like you are treading turbulent water, being tossed about by waves, and growing so weary you are close to going under.
Welcome to part one of a brand new series on heavenly peace.
In this series, we will discuss various aspects of heavenly peace, including mental health, physical health, and spiritual health.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7, NKJV
It has been months since the world felt “normal”. Many of us have made significant adjustments in our day-to-day lives to accommodate for stay at home orders, mask mandates, working remotely, schooling children remotely, caring for ill family and friends, grieving lost loved ones, taking extra precautions, and so much more.
We are all stressed.
No, seriously. I am not joking or trying to generalize. The majority of us are currently living with heightened stress over a prolonged period of time. This prolonged stress actually causes trauma to our mental and physical health.
And with the uncertainty of public health, how schools will re-open in the next month, whether employers will start requiring employees to return to offices soon, childcare dilemmas, so many unemployed, etc… the worries and anxiety over the near future will continue our state of stress.
Yet even with the unpredictability of our current local, regional, national, and global crises, the Lord has promised us an abundant life (John 10:10) that is built on a heavenly peace given through grace by the Lord (Philippians 4:7).The Lord has promised us an abundant life (John 10:10) that is built on a heavenly peace given through grace by the Lord (Philippians 4:7), even in times of crisis. Click To Tweet
When it comes to protecting our mental health, this precious peace is has four pillars, all found in Philippians 4. Let’s take a quick look:
Pillar #1: Gratitude
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Philippians 4:4
In times like these, it is not always easy to rejoice or find reasons to be grateful, but we are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord anyway.
If you are struggling with finding reasons to rejoice, take a notebook or journal and write three things you are grateful for either first thing in the morning or right before you go to sleep at night. Read through them to remind yourself of why you are grateful and what you are rejoicing for.
For more, read Hope in Crisis.
Pillar #2: Endurance
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Philippians 4:5
The word “gentleness” here is sometimes translated as graciousness or forbearance. Like that famous school poster of the kitten on the tree branch, this verse is basically telling us to hang in there. Life will not always be easy. There will be times when our grace, our fortitude, our endurance will be tested.
This is definitely one of those times.
The real question is: Will we allow the stress, anxiety, and fear of these uncertain days overwhelm us so we lash out at others, seeking a scapegoat to cast blame, or perhaps retreat inward, spiraling into a vicious cycle of negativity and depression?
Or will we allow the Lord’s strength to help us be gentle, gracious, enduring reflections of His love and compassion?
For more, read how to have gracious words.
Pillar #3: Prayer
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to GodPhilippians 4:6
Especially in the hard times, we cannot allow our fears and worries to overwhelm us to the point that we forsake prayer. In the simplest terms, prayer is our daily communication with the Lord.
How can a relationship stay strong if the individuals involved do not communicate? Can a marriage stay strong if the husband and wife go days or weeks without saying a word to one another? Will a parent/child or friend/friend relationship remain close if years ago by without a single word?
It is very challenging to maintain a healthy earthly relationship without communication. The same is true with our personal relationship with our heavenly Father. We need to talk with Him every day, and in doing so, we pour out our hearts, our worries, our needs, our gratitude, our praises, our hopes, our dreams to Him.
Pillar #4: Priorities
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.Philippians 4:8
We also need to be aware of what information we are feeding our minds on a daily basis. There is a children’s song that goes: “Be careful little eyes what you see.” How true this statement is even for us adults!
Have you carefully considered what you are focusing on these days? Are you watching so much news that it is sucking you in and you feel even greater worry and anxiety than necessary? Are you involving yourself in online or in-person discussions that can be best described as angry, defensive, selfish, divisive, hurtful, hateful, or uncaring towards others?
Verse 8 is a spiritual litmus test that we can use on any of our daily activities and information gathering. It can help us set our priorities.
Yes, it is important to stay informed on what is happening in your local area and country, but I encourage you to carefully evaluate how much time you spend focusing on the bad and the negative vs the true, noble, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praiseworthy.
Download a free Philippians 4:8 word search while you mediate on these things.
The peace of God
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:9
The Bible says that when we have learned these pillars, and put them into practice through His grace and power, God will cover us with His heavenly peace. A peace that surpasses any earthly understanding.
So, Beloved, do not let what is happening around you drag you down into despair. Focus on the four pillars – gratitude, endurance, prayer, and prioritizing the right things – and you will see a real change in your life.Focus on the four pillars found in Philippians 4 (gratitude, endurance, prayer, and priorities) and you will see a real change in your life. Click To Tweet
We will still have to deal with the stress of these hard, unusual times, but with the pillars of Philippians 4, we will have the tools to better process the stress in ways that are less traumatic to our minds and our bodies, both now and over the long term.
Just like the disciple John wrote in 3 John 2, I pray that you may be in good health and prosper, even in these challenging times. Remember that you are a precious child of God, so loved that Christ died for you. Do not give up hope. The Lord is with you through whatever circumstances you are facing. You are not fighting this fight alone.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.3 John 2, NKJV
Real life application
When you are a parent, navigating these challenges comes with the added responsibility of helping your children to navigate them, too.
As you embrace the Lord’s peace through focusing on the pillars for mental health in Philippians 4, you will be modeling this to your children through the changes you make in how to react and response to the stress and uncertainties life is throwing at you.
For example, instead of exploding at an unexpected interruption or setback, your children will see you process it in a more healthy manner and response accordingly.
Instead of panicking over an financial crisis or being too prideful to except needed help when it is offered, your children will see you take the situation to the Lord in humble, earnest prayer and use His guidance to look for solutions: seeking extensions, applying for unemployment or new employment, consolidating debt, and asking for assistance from numerous community organizations that are exist for such a time as this.
Instead of binge-watching sensational news outlets and constantly repeat the negativity being spewed by politicized talking heads, your children will see you get the most important news from reputable sources, filter it to find what is relevant to you, and make informed decisions on how this information affects your daily life.
By improving your own mental health during times of great uncertainty, you teach your children to also better deal with the unexpected and process stress in a healthier way.By improving your own mental health during times of great uncertainty, you teach your children to also better deal with the unexpected and process stress in a healthier way. Click To Tweet
Like ripples in a pond, your example will also affect your spouse, your extended family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your church family, and strangers you meet.
They may not see the full picture, but they will notice a calm and a peace about you, a kind-hearted deed, an encouraging word. Especially in the little moments and interactions of life, you will be a witness for Christ. (Acts 22:15)