Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Php. 4:4–7).
Many Christians would rate the scripture quoted above as amongst their most favourite. However, we can easily imagine how it might sound unfeeling and even cruel in some situations. Imagine exhorting someone who has experienced catastrophic loss to “rejoice”. We do well to remember that these words are written, from prison, by a prisoner who truly believed death would be the easier outcome for his life. We also do well to remember that they are written to a people who experience great suffering.
Paul has experienced God’s peace in the midst of turmoil. In spite of his situation, and perhaps even contrary to his own emotions he experienced God’s peace.
This peace, God’s peace, is available to us all. It is made known most especially in times of anxiety and distress. It is the peace of the Lord “near” to us. And for this we give thanks.