Devotional: October 24th
There are many vague and oppressive anxieties that come and cast a shadow over our hearts, that, if we could once define and put into plain words, we should find that we vaguely fancied them a great deal larger than they were, and that the shadow they flung was immensely longer than the thing that flung it. Put your anxieties into definite speech. It will reduce their proportions to your own apprehension very often. Speaking them, even to a man who may be able to do little to help, eases them wonderfully. Put them into definite speech to God, and there are very few of them that will survive.
"By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving." That thanksgiving is always in place. If one only considers what he has from God, and realizes that whatever he has he has received from the hands of Divine love, thanksgiving is appropriate in any circumstances. Do you remember when Paul was in gaol at the very city to which this letter (Philippians) went, with his back bloody with the rod and his feet fast in the stocks, how then "he and Silas prayed and sang praises to God"? Therefore the obedient earthquake came and set them loose. Perhaps it was some reminiscence of that night which moved him to say to the church that knew the story - of which perhaps the gaoler was still a member - " By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God."
One aching nerve can monopolize our attention and make us unconscious of the health of all the rest of the body; so, a single sorrow or loss obscures many mercies. We are like men that live in a narrow alley in some city, with great buildings on either side towering high above their heads, and only a strip of sky visible. If we see up in that strip a cloud, we complain and behave as if the whole heavens, right away round the three hundred and sixty degrees of the horizon, were black with tempest. But we see only a little strip, and there is a great deal of blue in the sky; however, there may be a cloud in the patch that we see above our heads, from the alley where we live. Everything, rightly understood, that God sends to men is a cause of thanksgiving; therefore, "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
"Casting all your anxieties upon Him," says Peter, " for He " - is not anxious; that dark cloud does not rise much above the earth- but, "He careth for you." And that loving guardianship and tender care is the one shield, armed with which we can smile at the poisoned darts of anxiety which would else fester in our hearts and, perhaps, kill. " Be careful for nothing" - an impossibility unless "in everything" we make "our requests known unto God."
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