• Lane of Roses

Rejoice, Always

Written by: Hanna Spanyer

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Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

- Philippians 4:4-8

At the beginning of this year, I resolved to not let anxiety win as often. Then this year happened. 2020 has been nothing short of a nightmare for me. Shortly after I was diagnosed with early-onset Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA for short) and placed on immunosuppressants to keep my immune system from devouring my larger joints (e.g. hips, knees, back, etc.), Coronavirus began to rock our world and change life as we knew it.


Being a paramedic, I didn’t have the option of staying home for over three months. I still woke up every third day, went to work for 24 hours straight, and constantly worried if that would be the day I was exposed – potentially threatening my life. In the beginning my anxiety was high, but we had enough PPE to go around. Then what seemed like overnight, we were running out of N95 masks, gowns, and face shields. I didn’t know when I would find an N95 that fit – or if I ever would again; and the possible Coronavirus calls were increasing. Would I contract this virus? Would I survive it? I couldn’t answer those questions. Nobody could.


With the unanswered questions about my personal health hanging over my head, anxiety set in and ran wild in my mind and heart. I began losing sleep, constantly felt sick to my stomach, and couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have a headache. Going to work – a job I absolutely love – became a dreaded chore. As we learned more about the virus, protocols/policies/procedures began changing almost daily, every call became a possibility for exposure, and each cough struck more fear into my heart. My resolution to not let anxiety win was obliterated by Coronavirus.


With the start of the pandemic, anxiety started its reign in my life. Anxiety clouded my vision, caged my heart, penetrated my mind, and slaughtered my spirit. I was so deep in my struggle, I forgot to look to God. Sure, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew He could protect me from this virus. He could calm my anxiety. He could clear my vision, free my heart, and heal my mind and spirit. But was I consciously allowing Him to do that? No. And that, my friends, is where my biggest problem this year lies.


So, from this point forward, I declare no more giving in to anxiety. Paul outlines it quite well in our passage.


Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! “Always,” Paul says. There should never be a moment where we’re not rejoicing in Him. Through life’s gracious ups and horrendous downs, rejoicing in Him allows us to focus our hearts and minds on Him. Is He not the Creator of our universe? Has He not written each of our days in His book before we were born? Is He not worth rejoicing in day in and day out? Rejoice in Him. Always. If we are spending our time rejoicing in God, there is little room to spend our thoughts on anything else – anxiety included.


Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. When anxiety creeps in, take this verse to heart! I know the whole “don’t worry about anything” part is a little easier said than done; so, let’s talk about the last part of this verse. Pray about everything. Everything. We should be in communication with God daily. Our conversations with Him don’t have to be complex. They can be as simple as “Hey, God. Thanks for waking me up today.” More often than not, mine are an in-depth cry for help, pleading for Him to ease my anxiety and pain. That’s just the thing, though He knows what we need, He still wants us to come and ask. In the face of anxiety, pray.


Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. When we run to God with a request, He loves to answer it. Praying for peace? He will give it to you. His peace is not fleeting. His peace settles over our spirit thicker than the morning fog and stays; not even the strongest rays of anxiety will penetrate it. Allow His peace to guard your heart and mind. Where God’s peace is, anxiety isn’t. They cannot coexist.


Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Finally, my friends, instead of constantly turning to penetrating, anxious thoughts, turn to what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Consider these thoughts as a healing salve to the deep wounds our anxious thoughts have created. If we spend more time learning to concentrate on the good rather than the bad, we will soon not have to think about turning our minds away from anxiety at all – it will be second nature to us, effortless.


No more racing thoughts.


No more sleepless nights.


No more sense of dread in the pit of my stomach.


No more anxiety.


That is my anthem for the rest of 2020. This passage as my guide, I will turn to God more and more each day, re-learning how to run to Him with each anxious thought, ask Him to take it away and provide peace, and fix my thoughts on the light rather than the dark.



Reflection

1. Have you struggled with crippling anxiety? How do you combat it? How can you use Paul’s words as a guide to no more anxiety?

2. What is your “no more”?

3. What are some practical steps you can take this week towards your “no more”?


Prayer

Father, I admit that I’m not the best at coming to You when I am struggling. Like the father and his prodigal son, each time I run away, You chase after me and welcome me back with open arms. Would You help me to continue to turn to You daily, whether I have a specific need that day or not? Would You remind my heart that You are safe? Would You just hold and comfort me as I lean on You for healing in the coming weeks? God, You are so good and gracious and loving. I know I don’t deserve Your love, but I am so grateful for it. I love You, Father. Amen.



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