Therapy: Session 3
David Marvin | 2020-07-28
Life is filled with chaos, yet God still wants us to live a life marked by calmness. We tend to look anywhere in the world around us to find relief, but our temporary solutions are just a bandaid. In this message, we learn from Philippians how to experience peace in the midst of anxiety by making our requests known to God.
Therapy: Session 3
Life is filled with chaos, yet God still wants us to live a life marked by calmness. We tend to look anywhere in the world around us to find relief, but our temporary solutions are just a bandaid. In this message, we learn from Philippians how to experience peace in the midst of anxiety by making our requests known to God.
Welcome to everybody who is tuning in online. We are so glad you're here. We are continuing the series Therapy, where every single week we are going through a new session, if you will, for therapy sessions, and covering some key issues related to mental health, which is an issue facing our world right now as much as it ever has before. Really, it was an issue even before COVID, and COVID-19 certainly has not made things any better.
So we are covering, for the next handful of weeks, what it looks like biblically and what God has to say about mental health. We're spending the first few weeks on anxiety. It's just too big of a topic, too big of an issue, to do all in one week. This is the third week as we walk through covering therapy in therapy session and the third session as it relates to anxiety. Let me start with a story that will give us some handholds for where we're going.
About 11 years ago, I moved to Dallas. I came on staff at Watermark, and I moved into the backhouse of a family that were Watermark members. They basically said, "Hey, we have a place you can stay and live and it's free rent." I'm always down with that. I was single, so I moved into their backhouse. I got here in June, but I wasn't starting work until August, and I had about a month where I was looking for anything that could be a side job or something to make some money on the side.
I had a relationship with a manager at a restaurant, so I reached out and said, "Hey, I don't know if you guys are hiring. I only have about a month but would love to work there. I'm looking for something to do for work." He said, "Sure. We'll hire you." I got hired to be a waiter for a month. Now, I'd never been a waiter before and had never really stepped into all of the challenges that come with waiting. If you have, it's not as easy, often, as they make it look.
You're juggling tables. You're juggling all of these different orders. On top of that, there was the challenge that I never mastered of carrying drinks on a tray. It looks incredibly easy when they're walking, holding 12 drinks on a tray. Don't be deceived. It's actually incredibly challenging, because you have to have all of the right calculations with your hand, and gravity is at work, and if you're handing off drinks, you have to compensate.
Anyway, because I never mastered that, during that month I just decided, "I'm not ever going to get this down, so I'm just going to carry them straight on a tray." So when I would deliver drinks to a table I was waiting on, I was just walking through the lunch line holding my tray, and then I'd set it on the table and hand out all of the drinks.
That is to say, I did that every time except for the first time and first table I waited. I'd gone through the training. I wasn't a trainee anymore, where I was formerly the guy who's walking around kind of shadowing some other waiter. You probably have seen this before when you go out to eat. It's like, "Hey, I'll take your order, and this is Bob. He's going to stand awkwardly close to me and learn how to do this."
I had gone through that and was no longer a trainee. I got my first table. I go to the table. It's a bunch of men. "Oh, that's going to be my first table." Not just any men. These are young dudes, all ripped up, wearing tall tees, tatted up. It just didn't look like a group of guys I wanted to get in a scuffle with. Anyway, I go up to the table and begin to take their order. I get all of their drink orders. I go back and pick up the lunch tray, and I decide, "I think I've got this. I'm going to give it a go and try to hold it like a normal waiter."
So I take their drinks. I carry them up to the table. So far so good. I begin to pass out their drinks to these eight men. As I took the first drink off the tray, I was reminded, or I became aware, that gravity definitely plays an issue in this whole thing, and because I took it off the tray and began to hand it down, I lost control. There was once weight on the tray, and I lost control of it, and all of the drinks came crashing down immediately onto the table. I mean, every single drink just crashed immediately on the table.
There was one guy in particular who was wearing an all-white tall tee. I might as well have just taken a raspberry iced tea and poured it right on his head, because that's essentially what happened. He stands up. He has raspberry iced tea all over his white shirt. He begins yelling at the manager, yelling at me, yelling at what could have possibly happened, saying, "This had better be a free meal!" He's just going berserk, and I'm like, "Oh my gosh. This guy is going to kill me for sure. This is not a guy I want to get in a fight with."
The manager comes up and says, "Hey, we'll take care of it. Go to the back." I go to the back. They end up sending somebody else to the table. They comp his meal. I'm sitting in the back thinking, "I'm going to get fired, and I'm going to get killed in the parking lot. This is not going how I wanted it to go." Just panicked, heart racing. Somebody comes up to me and says, "Hey, your parents are here."
I'm sitting in the back waiting to hear what's going to happen. "My parents are here? What?" My parents have been divorced for like 20 years at this point, so I'm like, "My parents are here? They're having a meal together and they're in Dallas? They live in Houston. That's just bizarre." I'm like, "It can't be my parents." They're like, "Yeah, I think they're your parents." She points to them, and I realize it's the couple from that backhouse I had just moved into three days before.
I go up to them, and they're like, "We came to see you. It's your first night. How's it going?" I bend down, and I'm squatting right next to them. I begin to explain, "It's not going good." I begin to go into, "My first table over there, I decked a guy with a raspberry iced tea. I think I'm going to lose my life, probably my job." I'm beginning to talk with them, and I'm kind of like… You know that moment where your heart is racing and you're like, "I don't know what I feel right now."
As I'm bent over, kind of squatted with one arm around each of them, very intimately, this couple I had just recently met, a staff person comes over and taps my shoulder and is like, "Hey, the manager wants to see you in the back." I'm like, "Oh my gosh. This is it. It's over for me." I did something next that, to this day, I have never done anything like it, especially with someone I barely knew.
Here's what I did. Basically, I was like, "All right. I've got to go." I hugged the dad, and I hugged the mom, and I leaned over and kissed her. As I got up and began to walk away, I realized, "What? I just kissed this woman I barely even know." All of a sudden, I was like, "What just happened?"
To this day, what's probably funnier is I love this family and know them really well, and I don't think we've ever talked about it since that moment happened. It was just one of those moments when the pressure and the chaos and everything that was happening… "I can't believe that all just happened." I acted out in a way that I'm like, "What did I just even do?"
What does that have to do with anxiety? I think, a lot of times, life is a picture of the chaos and the stress in that moment, the pressure people feel. In that pressure, we often do things that we're like, "What did I just do? Why did I say that? Why did I react that way?" Oftentimes, maybe we're feeling stress and anxiety, and that leads us to turn to anything that will give us relief because of that pressure.
We're trying to find any sense of calm in the midst of the chaos around us, so we turn to different substances or different codependent relationships. People turn to pornography. People turn to alcohol. We turn to anything that can steady and bring some sense of calm. The problem is a lot of the solutions we turn to are not helpful. They don't bring more calm into our lives. At best they're a Band-Aid, and oftentimes they bring even more problems, more addictions, more challenges.
God wants us to experience a life on this earth that, as chaotic as it can seem, is marked by peace, not by anxiety; is marked by calm, not by chaos. So, we're journeying through these few weeks and covering anxiety, and tonight I want to look at another principle and practical thing that God says, "In the midst of the chaos of life, in the midst of stress, in the midst of anxiety, here's what I want you to do."
We're going to specifically be in Philippians, chapter 4, and we're going to read some verses that you may be familiar with if you grew up in church, which is, honestly, not a thing that could be working in your advantage, if you will, because you've read these verses before and you're like, "Oh yeah. I've heard it. It doesn't really apply, doesn't really help. I still have anxiety." I would suggest there could be something related to what Paul says or something about God that you don't know, you're not applying, and that's why you're experiencing chaos, not calm; panic, not peace.
We're going to walk through exactly what the apostle Paul says. He starts in Philippians 4:6… As Paul launches into a conversation about anxiety and what Christians are to do, here's what he says: "…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Paul says, "Don't be anxious." Remember, the biblical definition of being anxious is meditating or dwelling on fearful and anxious thoughts. It's not "Hey, don't have an anxious thought." That's impossible. It is "Don't dwell and meditate on fearful, anxious thoughts." Don't spend your life meditating on those things, but instead, Paul says, pray. He walks through a handful of other different things.
1 . Communicate your fears to God. Paul says when you're anxious, the first thing you should do is communicate your fears to God. It's like this. Whenever you get engaged or whenever you have a child, there's something you'll get to experience, which is an amazing part of being engaged or being pregnant and waiting to have a child. It's called the registry. What is the registry? It's your gift registry.
Jesus said, "It is better to give than receive," but it's also pretty great to receive some too. The gift registry is where you let the world, your family, your friends, all of them know, "Here are the gifts my fiancée and I would like you to get us." You choose the store. You choose the things you want. This is the only time in your life, I think, where it is appropriate to make specific demands about the gifts people are going to give you and not come across as some entitled brat.
You can send it out, and you're like, "Oh yeah. Hey, don't worry about getting us something, but if you do, make sure it's one of these from this store." It's what you do. If you get engaged someday, you're going to go with that special someone, your fiancée, and you're going to go to the store. Here's what I love about living in modern times. They have added to this process a laser gun to allow you to register for gifts, maybe because they wanted the guy to be more engaged in the whole process. I don't exactly know.
You show up, and they hand you a laser gun, and you walk around Bed Bath & Beyond, and you just shoot stuff. You're like, "These are the cups we want. This is the comforter we want. This is the silverware, and this one is just for fun." You just go around and choose everything you want, and then you send it out to your friends and say, "Hey, these are the things we'd like to have."
Paul says, "When you're anxious, talk to God." Talk to God about the things you want to happen. Bring your registry. Bring your requests to God and let him know about those things. So, the first thing we see in this text over and over is "Communicate your fears to God." Communicate what you're feeling, what you're facing. In the midst of being anxious, tell God what you're feeling.
I read verses like this, and I'm like, "Paul, don't be anxious about anything, but pray? Are you just saying to pray? How can you tell me to not be anxious? Do you know how stressful my life is? Do you know how much I feel overwhelmed about the fact that this pandemic may not be going away for a while? I'm not exactly sure that I'm going to have enough to make it through the rest of the year, that I'm going to be able to continue affording rent once these supplement surplus paychecks run out. And you're telling me 'Don't be anxious'? How can you even dare to say that? That's so invalidating."
Paul is probably just sitting in some cabin writing this letter, all relaxed, with not a care in the world, with some quill pen, in between his stream baths or showers that he takes, totally removed from anything that's stressful in life. That's not true. If anybody had reason to be anxious, it was Paul. When I say it's not true at all if you think, "Paul clearly doesn't know how stressful my life is…" Paul had a life that was far more stressful than any of us have.
If you could trade your problems with Paul's, you would not take that trade, because what Paul was facing, even when he wrote these words, would have been incredibly anxiety-provoking. He was sitting in a jail cell. He had recently been arrested for sharing his Christian faith. Paul was sitting in a jail cell for spreading the message of Jesus, waiting to hear whether or not he would be executed. He eventually would be executed after being arrested, but right now he's just sitting in the jail cell.
He's in his mid-60s. His eyesight is going bad. We actually have writing about the jail cell that is believed to be the one Paul was in, and it said it was dark. It smelled bad. It was underground. It was separated. You were lucky if you had a candle, any ability to see. In the midst of that darkness, the apostle Paul leans back against the wall, his body disheveled from tremendous hardship that he had faced in life… I don't know if you know this.
Paul was beaten multiple times with… It's called 39 lashes or a cat-o'-nine-tails. Basically, at this time, they would take these whips, and they would whip and whip and whip people like Paul for spreading Christianity. It scarred and disfigured his back. He had been beaten with multiple rods. He was stoned. Like, people picking up stones and throwing them at his body to the point where he was left for dead.
He had this incredibly hard, difficult, challenging life. His body is now breaking down as he's sitting in his 60s in a jail cell, and he leans back against the wall. He feels the scars on his back from being whipped, and he decides to write, "Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything, here's what you should do."
If anybody has the credibility to write those words, it would be Paul. That's what I mean by if I could trade problems with Paul, it wouldn't be like a mortgage for sitting in a dark jail cell waiting to be executed, yet this is the man who says, "You're a Christian. Don't be anxious. Don't dwell on fearful thoughts. Here's what you should do: Communicate your fears to God. Go to him in prayer. Tell God what you're feeling. Ask him for help."
Then he says not just in prayer but in supplication. Supplication is a word that means to ask God for help. You can look it up online or look in a dictionary. The word Paul uses is ask God for help. He says, "Don't be anxious about anything, but here's what you should do. Here's how you can trade panic for peace," and he walks through four things.
2 . Ask God for help. Say, "God, I'm afraid of being single for the rest of my life. Will you please help me to find a spouse this year? God, I'm anxious over whether or not I'm going to get this job I applied for. Will you please help me to not be anxious and please help me to get the job? God, I'm anxious over my finances. Please, will you help me be able to pay off the student loans I have? God, I'm anxious over my dad's health. Will you please let the medicine work? Will you please help me to not be anxious?" Paul says, "Go to God. Talk to God."
So often, as Christians, when we feel anxiety, one of the last things we do is turn to God in prayer. If I were sitting down with you… And I can say it after having sat down and been around hundreds and hundreds of young adults for the past 10 years. In those moments of anxiety, when I ask the question, "Have you prayed about this? Are you often praying about this?" the answer is "No, but, you know…"
If something is important enough to worry about, it's important enough to pray about. Go to God. Paul says, "Talk to God." Prayer and supplication and let your requests… They're all very similar language. Paul says, "Go to God. Ask him for help. Tell him what you need, tell him what you feel, tell him what you're afraid of, and then ask him for help." Peter says in 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you."
Peter says, "Bring everything you care about to God, because you are what God cares about." Anything you care about God cares about because he cares about you. Think about that. It's a wordplay. Your translation may have "Cast all your cares on God because he cares for you." Peter is saying, "Hey, bring everything you care about to God. Tell him how you feel. Tell him what you're afraid of. Tell him what you're scared about. Talk to him. Bring all of those cares, because you are what God cares about."
He says, "In those moments where you're anxious, if you want to step in the direction of peace, if you want to actually talk to someone who can do something about it, talk to God." Maybe the biggest takeaway that someone listening right now can have is just to pray honest prayers. Begin the habit of telling God what you feel, not some spiritualized version of what you feel.
It's just weird. Christians do weird things. When they pray, they downshift into this mode of talking that's just bizarre. They don't talk like that to their friends, but you see them pray, and they're like, "Our Father, who art in heaveneth, give us this dayeth, and helpeth me to be-eth your man." That's weird. What are you doing? It's not more spiritual. It's just less genuine and bizarre.
You can tell God what you want. You can tell God what you're afraid of. "God, I'm afraid that my mom is going to die. I'm afraid I'm going to die alone. I'm afraid that I'm going to live my life and I'm going to be a failure. I'm afraid that I chose the wrong career." Talk to God about whatever it is. He loves you. You're what he cares about. Tell him what you care about. Tell him what you're afraid of.
I've talked to young adults who literally have been like… I've heard this exact scenario, where they're talking about their singleness, and they're like, "I'm afraid I'm going to be single for forever, but I feel like I can't tell that to God, because if I do, then he'll be like, 'I need to keep you single until you're content, and then you can have a spouse.'"
So they end up being like, "God, I'm content. I'm so content. I'm so content. I don't even really want a spouse, but I really do." It's ridiculous. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows everything you're afraid of. He knows everything you want. You're not hiding, maneuvering anything around in order to get him to do what you want. You can just say, "God, I want a spouse. I need a job." Whatever they are, bring those things to God in prayer.
My son is 4 years old, and he will sometimes come into my room in the middle of the night. This actually happened last night. He'll come in at like 3:00 a.m. He's like, "Daddy, there are monsters underneath my bed." I try to resist saying, "Oh, man. Yes, I put them there in order to keep you from getting out of bed." But really, I hear him. Of course, I know there are not monsters. Or he'll say, "There are monsters in the closet."
I pick him up. I take him back to his bed, and I go underneath and look. I'm like, "There are no monsters. I got them all out of here." I check in the closet. "No monsters in there. We have a big dog, Crew. He wouldn't let any monsters in here. All of the monsters are gone." And I leave there. There's something about me, honestly, that kind of loves the fact that he will come wake me up and ask me to come get the monsters out or tell me "I'm afraid of the monsters. Can you get the monsters out?"
It's not because I love being woken up at 3:00 in the morning by a three-foot silhouette of a small child like we're in Children of the Corn. It's because I love the fact that he knows "If I'm afraid, I can go to my dad. My father cares about me, and my dad can get the monsters out." He knows, "In that moment when I'm afraid, I'm going to go to my daddy because he cares about me and he can get the monsters out."
How heartbreaking would it be if I, as a father, knew or thought that he was sitting in his bed and was terrified, but he was like, "I can't go to my dad. My dad doesn't care about me. He doesn't care that there are monsters. And even if he did, he doesn't have what it takes to beat those monsters." It would be heartbreaking.
So often, that's exactly what we do to God. We're like, "I can't bring these things to God. They're too small. They're too insignificant. He doesn't really care about me. I can't go and just ask him to help me have a promotion at my job. I can't ask him to make the pandemic go away. I can't ask him to do [whatever it is]." Maybe Paul would say, "I don't think you think God cares for you."
Or maybe there's part of us that's like, "Oh, no. He cares for me. I mean, he sent his Son to die on the cross for me. He paid the highest price he could pay. Of course God cares about me. I just don't think he can do anything about it or would do anything about it." That's exactly what we do to God when we don't decide, "I'm going to go to him. I'm bringing him those things. He cares about me. He can do something about it. I'm bringing those to him." Paul through God's Word says, "Bring your requests. Make those asks of God. Ask him for help in whatever you're facing."
3 . Let your requests be made known to God. I love the way Paul wrote this in verse 6: let them be known. It's the passive voice, if you remember back to English class when things would be in the active form or the passive form or perfect tense form. This is in the passive form. In other words, it's not a direct command, saying, "Hey, make your requests be known." It's passive. It's "Let them be made known."
It carries the idea that those anxieties want to lift up. They want to get out. When you feel them rising up inside of you, let them out through talking to God about them. Let them be made known. Don't hold on to them. Don't bury them inside. It's like this. Anxiety inside of all of our lives, whatever type of anxiety you feel… Paul says, "Let those things surface. Let them come out."
Most of the time, we walk through life, and instead of letting those things out, we just bury them down. We act like they're not there. This is almost how anxiety can work itself out in our lives. Here's one. So, we're anxious about different things inside of life. It's like, "Man, I have my finances. I'm anxious about it. I don't want to be poor. I want to make sure I have enough in retirement. I'm feeling all of these different things inside of me, and I don't know how I'm going to pay for rent." Paul says, "Just let it out."
So often, we hold on to it and carry it around, and we're like, "No, I can't." We try to bury it down deeper and deeper and deeper in our lives, and then we have other anxieties. We walk through life, and it's like, "Oh man, my parents' divorce." Paul says, "If you're anxious about it, talk to God. Let them out. Let them rise. Talk to God in prayer." Too often, we just walk through, and we're like, "Man, I'm just going to hold it. I've got this one from corona."
People come around, and we continue to stuff them down even deeper in our lives. We go through life, and instead of letting these things that boil up on the inside… We're like, "Man, I'm so anxious. I could possibly lose my job. I'm going to be single for forever." Paul says, "You're carrying around things you were never meant to carry. Let them rise out." They begin to rise, but we're trying to hold on to them. We walk through life, and we stuff them down deeper. __________ (24:31) "Oh no! Financial prayer got away."
We just push them down and push them down. Paul says, "No, let them rise." Usually, we walk through life and pretend like they're not there. They hit and flood us in the morning. Here's what I know. You're human, so today you woke up, and even right now, you're feeling a flood of loneliness, fear, anxiety, all types of emotions. Some you can articulate, some you can't. You feel those things, and instead of expressing them or talking to God about them, you stuff them down and act like they're not there.
You go from one day to the next, and you go see your friends, and people walk through your life. They're like, "How are you doing?" and you're like, "I'm doing so great. Life is amazing. It's cool. God is good. Not today, Satan. #blessed." You hold on to them and push them down and push them down, and you act like they're not there, and they're not going away.
Paul says, "Let them rise. Talk to God about them. He cares for you. You're who he cares about. Let them rise. Let them go. When you do, you will begin to step in the direction of peace." Go to God. Talk to God about what you're feeling right now, tonight. Then he says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…" Paul is sitting in that jail cell. He was experiencing circumstances that none of us would ever want in our lives.
Paul is writing this letter and trying to figure out, "How do I say it? It's this incredible peace. No matter what you're facing in life… Like, you can be chained to a Roman guard," which Paul would have been as he was writing. He's like, "When you begin to do this, you experience a peace that… Man, it's amazing peace. No, it's incredible peace. No, it's great peace. No, it's like 'I can't even explain it' peace. It's peace of God. It comes into your heart and your life and guards your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."
The word guard was a military term. The city of Philippi where this letter was written was a military outpost. It would be like Fort Bend. They had a fort stationed there. They knew what it was like to have people on guard protecting something. Paul says, "Just like those guards outside of the city wall that protect you guys in Philippi…that's what the peace of God will begin to do in your heart and your life."
No matter what you're facing, what you're walking through, what you're experiencing, it's protecting you. You're experiencing it not because life is perfect and looks amazing all the time. No, no, no. Because no matter what you're facing on the outside, you're okay on the inside, because when you're anxious you're bringing those things to God and because you know who your heavenly Father is.
4 . Meditate on who your God is. That's the answer, ultimately, to how you and I can experience peace that he's talking about. It's like, "Paul, wait a second. You're just saying to pray, and if I pray, then I'll experience the peace of God. I've prayed before, and I don't feel like I experience the peace of God. How can I experience that type of peace?"
Paul would say, as you grow in your relationship with God, here's what you're going to begin to realize. The more and more you know who your heavenly Father is, the more you focus on "My God is for me. He loves me. He cares about what I care about because I'm what he cares about. My God loves me, and he's in control, which means I can bring him my requests."
I can say, "God, here's everything I want. Here's everything I'm afraid of. Here's everything I'm feeling. Here's everything I'm walking through, and I can leave those with you, God. And the ones you give me? Awesome. The ones you don't? It's not because you don't care about me. It's not because you're not capable. You can answer those things. It's because you know something I don't know."
Every time you bring those requests to God and he doesn't answer them the way you wanted him to, Paul would say, you can trust him. He loves you. He gave his life for you. Anytime you bring those requests and he doesn't give you exactly what you want, it's not because he doesn't care. He already showed how much he cares. It's not because he couldn't or he's not capable. He's capable. He's God. It's because he knows something you don't know, and you can trust him.
As we do, we meditate on "God loves me. He's in control. He's in control over whether or not my boss is going to like the presentation. God, you control people's hearts. I'm anxious right now. I'm asking for your help that it would go amazing, but if it doesn't, you have something better for me. I trust you. You're at work in the midst of this. You know something I don't know.
If I bomb the presentation despite how hard I worked, if I don't meet the quota that I'm supposed to end up meeting here… And I'm asking you, God, would you help me? I've worked so hard to get this, and I'm asking for your help, but if you don't do it, it's not because you don't care; it's because you know something I don't know. So I'm trusting you.
I'm asking for this relationship to work out, because we've been back and forth, and it feels like it's on shaky ground. I thought we were going to get engaged, and now we're not even close to getting engaged, and I'm not even sure I should keep dating them. God, would you please help us to make it work? I leave that there with you. If you don't answer it or if you answer it in a way I don't want, if we break up, that's not because you don't care; it's because you know something I don't know, and I trust you. I'm going to choose to trust you."
Paul says when you do that, you will experience peace. When you leave those things with him, when you decide, "You love me. You're in control. If I ask you something and it doesn't happen, you know something I don't. I trust you," you're going to experience peace. I talked about the registry. I said how awesome it is to have the ability to do one of those, but if you are engaged, here's something you should probably know is headed your way.
You're going to fill out that registry and send it out to all of your family and friends, and there's going to be someone, inevitably… I think there's one in every single family…at least one. They get that registry from you, and they decide, "Yeah, I'm not doing any of these. I'm going off the registry." This is sometimes the person who makes homemade gifts or sews together an afghan blanket. You know, that's their gift to you. If you don't know what an afghan blanket is, it's a really itchy blanket that is good for moving TVs when you move apartments.
They're the person who gives you that or they give you silverware that doesn't match your other silverware. They're like, "Here are some decorative pictures for inside your apartment," and you're like, "These match nothing we have. These are going into storage or into the attic." They're just someone who goes off the registry. They do so because they're just not great at giving gifts. There could be a lot of reasons why, but they just are not great at giving gifts.
So when it came to giving you what you asked for… It's because they're a bad gift-giver. Is that what God is like? Paul would say, "No." God is an amazing gift-giver. He only gives good things. In fact, in Matthew 7, Jesus says that exact thing. So, what could be happening if God doesn't answer the request or he goes off of my requested registry to him?
There's also another type of person who goes off the registry. It's not the person who does so because they're bad at giving gifts. It's the person who does so because they're farther in life than you are. They've been married a little longer than you have. They've had children longer or maybe more than one child, and they just know something you don't quite know. You don't even know to ask for it.
So they're going to go off the registry to get you something that they're like, "Look. I'm telling you, you're going to want this. You didn't even ask for it, but I'm getting it for you because I'm farther down. I know something that you don't." This happened in my own life when we had our first son. When we were pregnant, we had a baby shower. You do the same thing with babies. You fill out, do a registry, send it to your friends. You're like, "These are the things we want."
We sent it out, and at one of the showers, somebody came up, and they'd given us a gift that was off the registry. They brought us this bassinet. A bassinet is like a little crib that you put by the bed. They're like, "Hey, we got you this. It wasn't on your registry, but you're going to want this. This thing is a life-changer. It's a miracle worker."
At the time we got it, we were like, "Oh, great. Why didn't you just get us some of the things we asked for? Put this in the closet." Then six weeks later, when our son was 6 weeks old, we were in that stage where you'll do anything to stop the madness. You're like, "He won't sleep. We're up all hours of the night. Please, God, let him sleep."
You're trying anything. You're rocking him. You're doing warm milk, cold milk, a little Benadryl, whatever you can to get him to sleep. In that time, we were like, "Man, we're going to get that bassinet." We pull it out. We're desperate. We'll try anything. We put him in the bassinet, and he went right to sleep. It was like "This is a game-changer. I cannot believe we've gone even the last six weeks without using this thing."
This thing that I didn't even know to ask for, but for whatever reason, they were right. I filled it out. I wouldn't even put that on my requested things I would want, but it's because I didn't know what I didn't know. Because they were farther down the road, they did know. "Hey, you don't even know to ask for this, but you're going to want this."
That's the description that Paul would say and the Bible presents of God. Over and over, he gives us the things that, if we were him, if we knew everything he knows, we would ask and pray and make requests like the ones he's going to give us. In fact, Tim Keller, a well-known pastor, says this: "God will either give us what we ask for in prayer or give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything he knows."
When he goes off the registry, when he doesn't give a request, it's not because he doesn't care; it's because there's something he knows that we don't. Paul says you can trust him. Bring those requests, and then know, as you know more and more of who God is, you can trust him. He loves you. He's in control.
In conclusion, Paul invites us to experience calm in chaos; that we communicate our fears to God, we ask God for help, we let God know the things we want, and then we meditate on who our God is. When you do, in the midst of chaos you will experience calm that will mark your life, guard your heart, guard your mind, and step you in the direction of peace. Whatever you're walking through right now… And I know there are so many different things.
There are thousands of people who tune in every single week, who download the podcast, who are listening from every state in the country and all over the world. What you're walking through is terrifying. It feels chaotic, and God is inviting you to talk to him. If it's important enough to worry about, it's important enough to pray about. Will you go to him in prayer? Tell him what you're feeling. Tell him what you're facing. Ask him to move. Ask him to help you experience peace right now and know you have a good, loving heavenly Father who cares for you, who's in control, and who has invited you to go to him.
If you're not someone who has ever put your trust in Jesus, here's the final thing I would say to really everybody but particularly you. What you need to know is that experiencing peace surpassing understanding is not something you're going to experience in this life or the next, because you've never trusted in Jesus. You don't have a relationship with God, because the only way you can have a relationship with God, the only way you can be forgiven…
It's not by being a good person. It's not by listening to Porch messages. It's not by going to church. It's by putting your faith in what Jesus did on the cross. It's by trusting. That's what "putting your faith in" means. It means "I'm trusting not in how good of a person I am, how good of a life I live. I'm trusting in what Jesus did on the cross. When he died, he died for me. On that cross he paid for my sin. He paid for everything wrong I've ever done…every sexual sin."
He paid for that abortion. He paid for every time you've acted in a way that doesn't align with God's Word. He paid for every time you've had homosexual sin mark your life, for every time you've drank too much, every time you have dishonored him with your words, every relationship that you messed up, every person whose heart you took advantage of. All of it was paid for. All of it. Anyone who will accept not that they're good enough to earn a relationship with God… When you say, "You know, I try to live a good life," you're saying, "I could be good enough to earn a relationship with God."
Anyone who says, "I'm willing to trust not in what I do but in what Jesus did" will experience eternal life. They will have peace with God. Those are the ones who can have calm in the midst of chaos around them in this life and in the next. Tonight is your night. God extends to you… Will you acknowledge, "I'm a sinner. God, I'm unworthy of a relationship with you. I accept what you did for me by sending your Son Jesus as a payment for my sin. Only by that I'm forgiven and have eternal life. I want to walk with you and live for you for the rest of my days, amen."
You do that, and your life will be marked by more peace. That's the first step you should take. But for all of us, God says, "You can experience calm in the chaos if you'll communicate whatever you're afraid of. Ask me for help. Let me know what you want." Tell him your requests, and then know your Father loves you. He's good. He's in control. If he doesn't do things the way you thought he should, it's just because he knows something you don't. Let me pray.
Father, I thank you that you are a God who has made clear you care for us, and no one can actually believe that based on what you did by sending your Son. You care so much for us that you gave your own life. So tonight, anyone who has never put their faith in what you did on the cross, would you do what only you can do? Penetrate their heart.
With the rest of us who have done that, would we experience the therapeutic life or experience of calling out to you, communicating to you in prayer? When we find ourselves anxious, would we turn to you, give you our requests, and would you help us to be marked by a supernatural peace? We love you. In Christ's name, amen.