Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
War is looming. As a retired veteran, with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand the thoughts, emotions, care, and fear associated with the unexpected. No one likes conflict — especially the type whereby lives are lost. Each time I boarded a plane, I never knew if I'd return home. The danger is imminent but expected. War is never easy for anyone. I still remember the sounds of rockets as they whipped through the air, causing earthshaking movement that would cause your insides to compress with pain as they exploded nearby — while the smell of smoke, the grit of dust and debris cascaded your surroundings. The daily alarms, accountability drills, endless hours in the bunkers put you at a constant state of fear - service member perspective.
The nights of unrest, uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety builds with the days of no calls, no skype, no facetime, no text or emails, just silence. The breaking news, social media condolences, strange car in the driveway and knocks on the doors. The days and months of missed games, concerts, pageants, first walk, first talks, graduations, birthdays and deaths don't stop. "When is daddy or mommy coming home?" "How long have they been gone?" "What are they doing over there?" "How can you deal with this?" All of these are questions and concerns that most can't and won't answer with surety - family perspective.
Unfortunately, we are at this crossroads again. Many families are being separated as our Armed Forces once again answer the call of duty. The news of a loved one leaving with no answer of return is never easy to accept. There is a gamut of feelings and emotions that take over our minds and bodies that, if not careful, can be detrimental to our very health. How do we maintain our sanity? How do we keep our peace when all hell has broken loose around us? The Apostle Paul gives us clear instructions in Philippians 4:6-9 (NASB):
"6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Essentially, Paul is saying if you're going to worry, then don't pray, but if you're going to pray, then don't worry. Because when we relinquish our prayers and concerns to him, he can put our hearts and minds at ease. So much so that people will be amazed at how resilient you are in the midst of what seems to be a hopeless situation. Instead of worrying, we should be seeking the Lord in prayer! Prayer is the antidote to fear and uncertainty. When we pray, we are asking God to do what we are incapable of doing and being where we're not able to be. In his omnipotence (all-powerful) and omniscience (all-present) way, he's able to do both simultaneously. So we can rest and find solace in Him.
While resting in His presence, let us not be consumed with fear over what we have no control over. God is in control! Some may not believe that statement, but we as believers have to demonstrate this in how we react to the current situation. Paul gives us incredible insight as to how to respond.
He says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." He said to put our minds on positive things. To do this amid a war, sometimes we have to turn off the negative voice(s) (TV, internet, phone, what's going on back home) and turn on His joyful voice through the word. Psalms 119:165 (NASB) says, "Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble. When our minds are focused on God's word, he'll give us that peace that surpasses understanding whether we are afar at war or home with peace.
We have to trust Him!
Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV) says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
So instead of causing more chaos and confusion, panic and fear about what's going on in the Middle East, let us help others call and lean upon the only constant during any type of war both physical and spiritual - our rock and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting Prince of Peace!
Dr. Stephone A. Berry is an Associate Minister at Christian Faith Fellowship in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated with a Master of Divinity in Ministry Studies and earned a Doctorate of Ministerial Leadership from Columbia International University.