In the book of Philippians, it mentions a “peace that surpasses all understanding…” It’s in the context of praying to God as an alternative to worrying about things. This is in the even larger context of being thankful and full of joy in the Lord.
I am often a worrier. In a less negative connotation, I like to plan ahead and be prepared. This is to avoid unnecessary surprises, which can cause me anxiety. I am great at thinking ahead and preparing for the worst.
But all the worrying and planning in the world doesn’t always change things – it simply gives us this false sense that we are in control when we’re not.
In a recent post, I described how my husband and I have been trying unsuccessfully to have a second child for about a year and a half. At the time of writing it, I felt very hopeless, sad, and even somewhat angry. Achieving pregnancy consumed my thoughts a lot of the time.
Since writing it, we got back some test results that were not ideal. Basically what they revealed was that any quick or “easy” fixes (like surgery to correct a problem, for example) were off the table. Our doctor offered us one last option before referring us to try IVF/IUI – but to me, it felt like a last-ditch effort.
After that appointment, I felt like the answer from God as to whether I would ever get pregnant again was a resounding, “no.” And yes, I know logically that there is still a chance, and we’re still trying this last option, but my mind literally began to process it as if it would never happen. I felt myself for the next few days beginning to go through the process of grieving. It was surprising because my husband and I haven’t totally given up yet, but it’s like my mind and body decided it was time to move on. Maybe this was my body’s way of trying to protect myself.
I didn’t fight what my body wanted to do, I just tried to be mindful of my feelings. For a week or two, it was emotional as I processed the fact that I probably wouldn’t have any more children. But what was even more surprising, was the day when it suddenly didn’t feel that hard anymore.
I found myself feeling more and more content with my life. I started paying more attention to Calvin and found myself becoming more appreciative of everything he has added to our lives. I just began to feel really blessed to be a family of 3 – period, full stop.
It felt like the grief was just gone, as was the painful obsession of longing to be pregnant again. (That’s not to say we wouldn’t be thrilled if I did get pregnant, but that intense pain seemed to be gone.)
I could’t really understand it, except when I thought back to the verses in Philippians which say:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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.Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Was I experiencing this peace from God? Or had I just moved on? It seemed so out of the blue, that I personally believe it’s from God. Can I prove it? Not really. Can I logically come up with other reasons to explain it? Yeah, I probably could come up with something convincing related to the psychology behind grief. But I choose to believe God is involved and is answering prayers. I have certainly prayed a lot about it, and I know other people have been praying for me as well.
What I think is interesting about this verse is that in order to experience this peace, it says we need to not only pray, but also thank God for all he has done. So even in our times of need, we are still maintaining a spirit of gratitude.
There’s science to back this up – grateful people are happier, more optimistic, and even physically healthier than people who focus on the negative aspects of their lives.
There are multiple instances in the Bible where it talks about how our thoughts affect us. In fact, in the next verse (v. 8) of chapter 4 in Philippians, it encourages us to think about things which are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.” And then it follows in verse 9 by saying, “And the God of peace will be with you.” Another reassurance that focusing on the positives can result in peace.
As today is Thanksgiving, it seems like an appropriate time to begin a habit of being grateful if you aren’t in the habit already. This might look like keeping a gratitude journal, saying three things you’re thankful for each day, or even telling another person why you are thankful for them. And of course, a little prayer might help too!
There are definitely other areas of my life where I’m not feeling that supernatural peace yet. I’m hopeful I can continue to practice praying, trusting God, and remaining grateful.
Thanks for reading – Happy Thanksgiving!