Let your petitions be made known to God.
When Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines in late 2013, Sheryl, who was only 13 years old at the time, lost virtually everything. She said: “I lost my home, and I lost most of my family.” Her father, mother, and three siblings died in the powerful storm surge. What has helped Sheryl to get through this tragedy without becoming bitter? She has a grateful heart and remains conscious of the blessings she still has. “I saw all that the brothers and sisters did to bring relief and encouragement to those who needed help. I knew that brothers all around the world were praying for me.” She added: “I am very thankful that Jehovah is my God. He always gives us the things we need.” Yes, being conscious of our blessings is a powerful antidote to being swallowed up by grief. An appreciative heart helps us to go on despite any distressing events that we may face.
The point of the Daily Text is brevity. I get it. But sometimes if we just consider a snippet of a verse and neglect the surrounding context we can miss something. In context the verse states: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
Everyone feels anxiety at times. Anxiety is defined as apprehension, distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. Being anxious creates stress. And prolonged stress is one of the underlying factors of ill health, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
Although Paul was likely referring to the figurative heart, given the body/mind connection the peace of God may contribute to a healthier literal heart as well. That makes prayer some powerful medicine!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are fond of the truth. We speak of being “in the truth,” of learning “the truth” or even of someone leaving and “falling out of the truth.” That being so, ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses have come up with their own counter expression of their supposedly learning “the truth about the truth.”
Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses and persons who are studying “the truth” have been exposed via the Internet to the so-called “truth about the truth.” Being confronted with negativity can create doubt, uncertainty, anger and confusion —yes, anxiety.
And I am well aware of the jarring impact the information presented on this site can initially have on some people. Jehovah’s Witnesses are justified in being wary of being deceived. After all, the apostle warned that there are many deceivers in the world. But it may be especially disturbing to realize that the Watchtower does not have a clear understanding of the things to come in the immediate future. In effect, they have deceived Jehovah’s Witnesses. Perhaps it is just as well though. Does our knowing that the world is about to be plunged into war, famine, pestilence and unimaginable chaos bring peace of mind? Hardly.
I relate to the prophet Habakkuk. He was given a foregleam of the horrific global genocide that is going to occur at the appointed time. After experiencing the vision of the things to come the prophet said in the closing words of the Habakkuk: “I heard and I trembled within; at the sound my lips quivered. Rottenness entered my bones; my legs beneath me were shaking. But I quietly wait for the day of distress, for it is coming upon the people who attack us. Although the fig tree may not blossom, and there may be no fruit on the vines; although the olive crop may fail, and the fields may produce no food; although the flock may disappear from the pen, and there may be no cattle in the stalls; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”
Habakkuk experienced extreme anxiety because of knowing the future. Nevertheless, he looked forward to the salvation that God has promised. Be that as it may, it should be a comfort to know that the peace of God “surpasses all understanding.” In other words, we do not need to understand everything. As long as we rely on God through prayer, even intense prayer, which is what supplication is, Jesus will keep our faith intact and prevent our mental powers from being overwhelmed, even through periods of intense uncertainty and stress.
Sadly, it seems that many people stop praying and asking for peace when they need it the most, when they are in a turmoil. How sad that so many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been engulfed in doubt and given up on the truth at this time, when all indications are that the system is about to come undone and the Lord —the real Truth —is near to being revealed.