“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts, and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Life is not always easy. The wording “be anxious” (merimnao) refers to having “a distracted care” (Vine’s). The root word (merizo) means “to draw in different directions, distract” (Vine’s). There are difficulties in life which can distract us from what is spiritually important.
We need to stay focused (Matthew 6:33). It is important that we continue to trust in God. Solomon instructed, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Job said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him” (Job 13:15). Paul said, “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God…”(1 Timothy 4:10)
Those who trust Him have certain characteristics. (1) They continue to pray (Philippians 4:6). No, God does not always grant their petition (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). They trust His wisdom. They know that God is able to deliver them, and choose to serve Him whether He does or not (cf. Daniel 3:17-18). (2) They have an inner peace that the world does not understand (Philippians 4:7). This peace of God guards their hearts and minds. Remember that Paul was in prison at this time. The ESV Study Bible comments, “Paul’s use of ‘guard’ may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers – it is the peace of God almighty. Because God is sovereign and in control, Christians can entrust all their difficulties to him, who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all His ways (Romans 8:31-39). An attitude of thanksgiving contributes directly to this inward peace” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2287).
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea-billows roll; what ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul’” (Song: It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford).
The man who wrote this song knew personal loss. In 1871, The Great Chicago fire destroyed nearly all of his material possessions. In 1873, his wife and their four children were on the passenger ship Ville Du Havre, when it collided with another ship and sank. His wife survived, but all four children died. Horatio Spafford wrote this song in 1876, despite these tragedies.
The original second verse of the song read, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control. The Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul” (Max Wheeler, Reflections on our Hymns, p. 10). If one is right with God, all will be OK. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)