Pray for Calm This Christmas
(message excerpt from John Piper)
We are torn up in ourselves — with nobody else even around — by guilt and by untold diversities of anxieties and amorphous instabilities. Choose your word: bad feelings that have no reason for being there. We’re just torn up by these.
What do you do with them? You believe God’s promises, and here’s the sweet text. Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything.” The opposite of anxiety is peace, so have peace. Paul is telling us to enjoy peace. “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
“Tell him just exactly how you feel. God knows.”
In other words, roll the anxieties. Give them to God. Tell him just exactly how you feel. God knows. You can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes. Just tell him how you have doubts, tell him how you have guilt, tell him how you have anxieties, tell him how crummy and non-Christian you feel and you roll it, roll it onto him, and then listen: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
You know what he’s saying there? He’s saying, “You’re under attack, friend.” What’s this “guard” business? Why would you need to be guarded by peace? Because you’ve got an enemy in here and out there, and he wants to destroy your peace at any cost, by any means, with any kind of unsettled feeling.
And you know why? All the rational things you can come up with confirm your loss of peace. “Of course, I shouldn’t have peace. Here are the ten reasons my reason can provide.” That’s why he says this peace is above all reason. There will be moments when your fear, your anxiety, your sense of guilt is totally rational and warranted as far as you can tell.
What will you do then? I remember Paul Tripp pointing out one time that we have to be aware of our inner lawyer coming to our defense too quickly. Well, we got another, namely, a prosecuting attorney. There are two lawyers in me. Oh, I’m good at defending myself — big time. The defense attorney kicks into action lots. But there’s another one. He goes into action first thing in the morning.
What do you do? With prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, you tell God, your friend — he’s not the issue here. He’s your friend, and you tell him what’s going on. And you ask him, and the peace of God comes. I’m 65 years old. This is not new to me, and it doesn’t get easier. Sorry about that. But after about 54 years of doing this, he’s faithful. I’m a Christian. I’m standing here as Exhibit A.
“God shows up in the morning, fighting for you, not against you.”
I’m loving this moment. I’m loving you. I’m loving the gospel. I’m loving Christmas. I’m loving Jesus. Why? He came — a thousand times he came. And he set up a guard around this so fickle head and heart of mine. It’s my only hope. Why are you going to be a Christian when you wake up tomorrow? Not because of you, but because God shows up in the morning, fighting for you, not against you.
So many guilts, so many worries, so many threats, so many confusions, so many uncertainties, and so much rational support they get from our brain. I am thankful for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and inexplicably I’m better.
So do that this Christmas: roll it tonight. Just roll it. Take all the stuff, and roll it. Get alone for a few minutes, and just roll it off of you on to him, and ask for that. Say, “God I’ve got relationships to deal with. I have to know some measure of peace, because I can’t walk into this without knowing I’m okay with you and with myself.”