Perplexities

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”     PHILIPPIANS iv. 4, 5, 6.

ST. PAUL, in these words, bids the Christians in Philippi to carry all their sorrows and fears to the throne of Christ. He specially bids them remember the nearness of our Lord; and the freedom we may use in speaking with Him. And in so doing he has taught us a great and blessed truth, needful for all men, in all ages: I mean, that a life of prayer is a life of peace. It is not in times of persecution only, but at all times, that the presence and fellowship of Christ are the peace and consolation of the Church. We are born into a world of perturbations; we carry them in our own heart. The world is the counterpart of man’s fallen nature, turbulent, restless, and distracted. Every man gives in his contribution of disquietude; and the life of most men is made up of cares and doubts, perplexities and forebodings, of fruitless regrets for follies past, and of exaggerated thoughts of trials yet to come. On men who live without God in the world these things press sorely. They fret and wear them without alleviation. This is the “sorrow of the world” that “worketh death.” It is a bitter and embittering disquiet of heart. The plague of evil thoughts, inordinate cravings, disappointments and losses, vain hopes and wearing fears, these are by nature the portion of us all. Even religious people have their yoke of cares. But there is this difference between them and others; they know where to carry the recital of their troubles, where to lay down their burden, and Who will bear their griefs and take away their sorrows. …

When we are overcome by a sense of what we are, and for shame or sorrow even fear to speak at all, we may place ourselves before Him, passively, and in silence, casting ourselves down under His feet, to be read, searched by His penetrating sight. Though unworthy to ask the least, yet we may make our requests known unto Him by silent humiliation, and by secret appeal to His perfect knowledge.

Now, this is what St. Paul bids us to do. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” And the promise is, not that we shall have whatsoever we may ask, but that we shall have peace. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We shall not, indeed, always have what we ask; but if we ask in faith, we shall always have peace. Of this we shall never fail.

Henry Manning, “A Life of Prayer, a Life of Peace, SERMONS BY HENRY EDWARD MANNING, M.A., ARCHDEACON OF CHICHESTER, VOLUME THIRD, 1847

Henry Edward Manning, according to Wikipedia,  was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic church, and the second Archbishop of Westminster from 1865 until his death in 1892

This passage probably either resonates with you or it doesn’t. A sea of disquietude, forebodings, and perplexities.  There was a time when my work situation was keeping me awake at night. Commands by “holy” people to pray, laid upon me at that time or remembered in the past, only added to the burdens and sorrow. I think the difference between those people and the passage above is the admission that it is rough for everyone. Manning says that even religious people have their share of cares, although in his context it may mean people religious, as in people with a full time job in the church. Perhaps it’s the person who’s struggling against the waters of life that can best tell others how to cry for help.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we are struggling with perplexities, doubts, and sorrows. Give us peace. Lift these burdens from our hearts that are due to our difficult situations.  Remind us to cast ourselves at your feet.  Also remind us of the freedom and complete unconditional forgiveness provided by the gospel. Let this gospel light remove the fear and prideful expectations that wear down our souls and make us reluctant to come before your throne of grace. Keep us and renew us. AMEN.

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