There’s an old story about a Georgia farmer, ragged and barefooted, standing on the steps of his tumbledown shack, when a stranger stopped to ask directions. After giving the information, the farmer offered the fellow a cold drink, so he decided to pass the time for a few minutes and ask about his crops.
“How is your cotton coming along?” he asked.
Ain’t got none,” replied the farmer.
“Did you plant any?” asked the stranger.
“Nope,” was the reply, “afraid of boll weevils.”
“Well,” continued the stranger, “how is your corn?”
“Didn’t plant none,” came the answer, “’fraid there weren’t going to be no rain.”
The visitor persevered: “Well, how are your potatoes?”
“Ain’t got none. Scairt – of potato bugs.”
“Really, what did you plant?” pressed the stranger.
“Nothin’,” was the calm reply, “I jest played safe.”
The farmer’s fears kept him from acting. His anxiety about unknown factors produced failure instead of bountiful crops.
Today, many folks are afraid of COVID-19. Even though states are opening up, business are resuming, and churches are beginning to assemble again, surveys indicate there is a great fear among many of returning to our normal, daily activities.
While we don’t advocate a reckless, careless and foolhardy approach to this issue, we can’t stay inside forever. In addition to exercising wisdom, practicing good hygiene, and just using common sense, I recommend you read Philippians 4. It offers help, encouragement and direction.
#1 Why worry when you can pray?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” (v. 6).
The word “anxious” means “to be troubled with cares.” Paul is not condemning prudent forethought, or thoughtful planning, but rather needless worry and undue anxiety. There is an old adage that says, “worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere!”
Prayer clears the mind. Calms the disquieted spirit. Produces peace. Renews your energy. Entreats divine assistance. And trusts in God’s goodness, grace and guidance.
#2 Focus your mind on virtuous thoughts.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (v. 8)
Too often we engage in thinking that’s the very opposite of this divine injunction. Negative and worrisome thinking leads to fainthearted and fearful feelings and will result in actions and attitudes that are debilitating and destructive.
For further insight into this powerful verse check out this previous post.
#3 Rely on the Lord’s strength
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (v. 13)
Paul had suffered much for Christ. Beatings. Stoning. Imprisonment. Shipwreck. Perilous situations. Misrepresentation. Hunger. Thirst. Weariness. And sleepless nights. Why did he keep going? What was the secret of his contentment? Where did he find help? How did he overcome adversity? Who was his source of strength?
The answer to all of these questions is… CHRIST!
This wonderful text offers us help and hope today. It says you can bear any burden. Cope with any trial. Perform any duty. Overcome any temptation. Deal with any adversity. Contend with any challenge. Conquer any weakness. And subdue Satan’s cunning schemes.
There are many other wonderful words of encouragement in this text. Read it. Meditate on it. And apply it.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman