Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6,7
When our TV ministry first began in the former USSR, we needed low-hanging, directional lights for our studio. Our staff was inexperienced, but they were all we had, so I sent them out to search for lights we could use to illuminate the studio where we were going to be filming our TV programs. With great delight, they returned with 40 big lights that they were sure would work to light up the studio. For a week, the staff members carefully hung the lights in place and tested them. After being satisfied that the lights were exactly what we needed, they said, “OK, now we can begin to film new TV programs!”
I was excited that the studio was so well lit and that the low-hanging lights looked so professional. But our studio had no air-conditioning, which made the room very hot. To stay cool, I wore a dress shirt, tie, and suit jacket from the waist up — and from the waist down, I wore shorts and put each leg into a big bucket of cool water in an effort to cool down while we were filming. Even with my legs submerged in that water, sweat would pour from my brow, and I would have to wipe my forehead the whole time we filmed. However, on this particular day, it felt especially hot — much hotter than usual.
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After two hours of non-stop filming under those 40 lights, I felt very hot, so I took my legs out of the buckets, untied my tie, unbuttoned my top shirt, and went outside to get some fresh air. When I walked into the edit suite where the producers were working, they were trying to adjust the colors on the camera, because my skin looked so red on the monitors. They twisted this knob and that knob, trying to get the color to look right. They were so focused on what they were looking at on the monitors that they never actually looked at me! Eventually I heard them say, “We think we’ve got it fixed. So, Rick, why don’t you head back into the studio, and let’s film more programs.”
Once I resumed filming, I didn’t stop again until I had filmed a total of eight hours of TV programs that day. It was a personal record for the most TV programs I had ever filmed in a single day.
But this time when I walked out of the studio, the producers looked at me to congratulate me for completing such a successful day. When they saw me, they gasped. It was at that moment they realized the 40 lights they were so proud of — that I had been sitting in front of for eight hours — were sunlamps! My face was severely burned and red beyond imagination. Try to imagine what you would look like if you sat in front of 40 sunlamps for eight hours! To make matters worse, I had been sitting in shorts with my legs in two buckets of water, and the radiation from those lamps literally scorched my legs. But the worst of all was what happened to my eyes — I could hardly see because my eyes were so burned. And every time I blinked, it felt like shredded pieces of glass were being dragged across my eyes.
At that time, pharmaceutical products were scarce in the former Soviet Union, so there were no medications or ointments to put on my burnt body. Instead, a local doctor recommended that I be covered in sour cream and that I then be tightly wrapped in plastic, like Saran Wrap, to keep the moisture trapped around my body! So I lay on the couch as Denise and her helpers literally doused me from head to toe in sour cream, and then had me roll over and over so the plastic would tightly stretch around me. My arms were trapped under the plastic; my legs were bound; I was immovable. I remember telling Denise that I felt like a huge enchilada!
Hour by hour, the pain increased all over my face and legs — every place that had been exposed to the 40 sunlamps. I cried because of the horrible pain in my eyes every time I blinked. We called a doctor in the United States who warned that it was possible I would wake up blind the next morning because I had spent eight straight hours looking directly into 40 sunlamps. Fear tried to grip my heart. Denise lovingly stayed right at my side the entire night to comfort me because of the pain that wracked my body. The pain in my eyes was especially horrific. Denise comforted me and reassured me that I would be able to see and that, by the grace of God, we were going to get through this horrific ordeal!
That night I shuddered with pain every time I blinked, and fear kept trying to sink its talons into my mind. So to fight against that fear, I decided to meditate on Philippians 4:6,7. When the pain raged through my eyes, I would quote this verse and focus on the promise of God instead of my excruciating condition. I probably quietly spoke that passage to myself hundreds of times that night as I released all my faith that my eyes would be all right, regardless of the pain that tormented me throughout that seemingly endless night.
The first verse of this passage, Philippians 4:6, tells us not to worry about anything. It reads, “Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” Honestly, it took all of my determination that night not to worry about my eyes.
But the verse commands us to present our supplications and requests to God with thanksgiving and to leave worry behind. So that night I cried out to God and made my request known, asking for my eyesight. Hour after hour, I expressed thanksgiving to the Lord and did my best to praise Him from a grateful, thankful heart in spite of the pain. Denise prayed with me and helped me keep giving thanks to God through the night.
I wish that I could tell you that night was my last experience with sour cream and plastic, but the doctor recommended that I continue this treatment over the course of a few more days. As I lay trapped in that plastic during those long days — smelling like sour cream and suffering from tremendous pain all over my eyes, face, hands, and legs — I especially focused on God’s promise in Philippians 4:7. This verse specifically held me in peace during that difficult time, and it has done so again and again throughout the years as I’ve continued to walk with Jesus. Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The word “peace” is the Greek word eirene — a powerful, often-used word in the New Testament that describes tranquility experienced after the cessation of war. It conveys the idea that the conflict is over; the war is finished; victory is achieved; and it is time for tranquility and rest. I had already expressed my supplications and thanksgiving to God, so it was time for me to rest in the fact that the battle for my sight was won. Since I had fulfilled the conditions of verse 7, I rested and allowed tranquility to come over me, and that tranquility ministered “peace” to my soul when I desperately needed it.
As I experienced this peace of God, it spoke to me far louder than the pain. Inwardly I knew that the battle for my eyes was over and that they were going to be all right. And just as verse 7 promises, “the peace that passeth understanding” began to “keep” my heart and mind.
The word “passeth” is a form of the word huperecho, which denotes something that is superior or surpassing. Because nothing compares to it, it is in a category of its very own. Furthermore, because this Greek word is a participle, we know that the peace of God expresses itself in us continuously. Thus, when I claimed peace in my situation, it began to continuously work in my heart and soul.
The word “understanding” is a translation of the Greek phrase panta noun, which literally means all understanding. It encompasses everything connected to the mind or reason. God’s peace surpasses all reasoning, all understanding, and all thoughts that enter and work through the mind. This means that even though my mind screamed pain, God’s peace surpassed its vehement voice and enabled me to hear His healing words.
Paul concludes verse 7 by saying “…The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The word “keep” is the Greek word phroureo, which means to guard. However, it specifically referred to soldiers whose mission was to stand guard at the gate of a city to decide who was permitted inside. They had the power to decide who entered and who was restricted from entering the city. The word “heart” is kardia, which describes the center of a person from which thoughts and affections flow, and “mind” is noema, the Greek word for thoughts.
When you take this entire picture conveyed in verse 7 into consideration, we see that the peace of God stands like a guard at the entrance to our hearts, affections, and thoughts. If we allow peace to work, it will say “yes” to healthy, positive thoughts that want to enter those “gates” to our lives. But if something negative, detrimental, or destructive wants to enter our hearts, affections, and thoughts, the peace of God acts as a guard to block it from gaining access inside us. Thus, the peace of God acts as a sentinel of our hearts and minds.
As I recovered from my 8-hour encounter with 40 sunlamps, scary, fear-filled thoughts tried to enter my heart and mind. But when I claimed Philippians 4:6 and 7, the peace of God stood at the door to my heart and mind and refused to allow negativity and fear to enter my heart, The peace of God — the guard to my heart and mind — threw open the gates for a positive, healing influence. As a result, I recovered completely.
If you find yourself in a difficult position, and fearful thoughts try to enter your mind and emotions to create havoc, be quick to apply Philippians 4:6,7 to your situation. Very simply, do the three requirements laid out in verse 6:
- Refuse to worry.
- Let your requests be made known unto God by prayer and supplication.
- Express thanksgiving — because heartfelt thankfulness is a powerful force to lift you up!
As you fulfill these conditions, God will go to work to perform His promise in verse 7.
- The peace of God will go to work for you, producing supernatural tranquility and rest for your soul.
- That peace will surpass any other thoughts that are trying to make you fearful.
- That peace will act as a guard to prevent wrong thoughts from entering your heart, mind, and emotions — and it will throw open the door for positive, faith-filled thoughts to find entrance to your mind as well!
Philippians 4:6,7 is a very powerful passage of Scripture. If you’ll fulfill the conditions of verse 6, God will be faithful to fulfill His promise to you in verse 7. So if you need a measure of peace in your life, you can assuredly know that God is anxiously waiting to fulfill His promises to you and to all those whose lives you touch. Just allow the grace of God to touch you today, and watch how He strengthens you as you shake off the chains of anxious, negative thinking!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for Philippians 4:6,7. Starting today, I ask You to help me fulfill the conditions in verse 6. And as I do, I expect You by faith to start performing the promise in verse 7 on my behalf. I thank You that Your peace will bring tranquility and rest to my soul and serve as a sentinel to prohibit detrimental, damaging, and negative thoughts from entering my heart. Jesus fought the battle for me; the war is won; and now it’s time for peace to express its full power in me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly confess that I refuse to worry as I let my requests be made known unto God. I give God thanks for working in my life. As a result, I will experience the peace of God, and it will work for me to produce supernatural tranquility and rest for my soul. That peace will surpass any thoughts, which are trying to make me fearful. That peace will act as a guard to keep wrong thoughts from entering my heart — and it will throw open the door for positive, faith-filled thoughts to find entrance instead.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you remember a moment in your life when fearful thoughts assailed your heart and mind, but after prayer, the peace of God brought tranquility and rest to your soul?
- Do you know any individuals who are struggling and need the encouragement found in this Sparkling Gem? If you really care about them, why not share it with them and let it strengthen them for the fight they are in?
- Does peace or anxiety rule you? If you tend to be tossed about by anxiety, I want to tell you emphatically that the peace of God is the best medication for the Ask God today to let His peace that passes understanding go to work in your heart, mind, and emotions!