A New Perspective in Light of our Circumstances
Sandwiched between the commands to rejoice and pray in verses 4 and 6 respectively, Paul includes two other significant statements. First he says, “let your reasonableness be known to all people”. The reality is that those who rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances, and particularly in adversity, will have a perspective of wisdom and humility allowing them respond with a spirit of gentleness and moderation in the most difficult of situations. James clarifies this for us in his own epistle. He writes:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jam. 1:2-4)
Those who look upon hardship with joy knowing that God in his goodness and providence uses it to bring spiritual maturity will begin to respond in more Christ-like ways. That is, they will respond not as a people given to panic and self-preservation, but with wisdom, discernment, and humility as well as a willingness to lovingly sacrifice what they have for those who have not.
A New Perspective in Light of Eternity
Paul’s second statement is also about perspective. But rather than a perspective on our immediate circumstances, it’s about the bigger picture. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything”. James once again helps us understand, “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jam. 5:8).
Establish your hearts. Gird yourself with the belt of truth. And the truth is that these hardships are not the end! The Lord is near! He will one day return. Therefore, as Jesus said to His disciples, let not your hearts be troubled because He is coming back (Jn. 14:1-3) and we have a hope that will not be put to shame because He has put His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of our future inheritance in Heaven (Rom. 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14)!
Finally in closing, as we become more isolated in these days of pandemic, and especially if you’ve never made this a habit before, we highly recommend adopting a daily time of prayer and thanksgiving (even if it’s hit or miss!). There is no better antidote against fear, panic, and anxiety than earnest prayer and joyful thanksgiving to the Lord. Prayer is the first work of the believer. Because even when we can do nothing else, we can still pray.