Fear and anxiety are natural reactions to pestilence, sickness, tragedy, financial loss and other uncertainty. In fact, they may be appropriate reactions. Those who do not acknowledge God have no reason not to panic whenever health and prosperity are threatened. They have nothing else. Those who refuse to submit in faith to Christ can have no genuine peace. The call to keep calm and carry on is of no lasting value to those whose lives are not built on the bedrock of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.
But may Christian believers not forget the peace that is ours in Christ. We have the Lord’s promise for peace that transcends understanding. Such peace is obtained through prayer, but not just through desperate pleas for help, but rather through prayer flavored by thanksgiving for God’s blessings.
The apostle exhorts “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis mine)
When we begin to feel anxiety rise up in our own hearts, may we pray. But as we pray, may we remember aloud with thankful hearts the blessings we have already received. Among those blessings, may we recall the eternal peace with God we have through the blood of Christ. Thank Him! Praise Him! And know with certainty that He who loved us so much that He gave His Son for us, will not forsake us in our time of need.
The peace we are promised is not an immunity from sickness or pestilence. The very point the apostle is making is that, no matter what befalls us, our hearts and minds can be at rest. The peace we have surpasses (makes no sense according to) natural understanding.
So then, in this time of global crisis and widespread personal unrest, let us not forget to flavor our prayers with thanksgiving! In this regard, the general thanksgiving found in the Morning Prayer liturgy may be helpful:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.