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Any-thing and Every-thing

by on October 1, 2013

Note: The pastors took August and September off from blogging, but it’s October now, and they’re jumping back in.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”

Phil. 4:6-7

What do the words ‘anything’ and ‘everything’ have in common? Both words are by nature all inclusive and indicate completeness. Both words are also compound words, made up of two words. Each contains the word ‘thing’. Thing can be a very ambiguous word and when over used will bring a poor mark on a research paper submitted for a grade. It can also be overused in sermons, speeches and everyday conversation. There comes a point where the word ‘thing’ loses its helpfulness in identifying objects or thoughts we are referring to.

However, the term also serves a very useful purpose. Sometimes some ’thing’ is not easily described so it becomes ‘a thing’, or simply, thing, and in a given context makes perfectly good sense. The term also can be used to describe a category of individual items and also as a catch all to include all the things we can think of. When Paul says we are to ‘not be anxious about anything’, could we just as well say to ‘not be anxious about any thing’? Likewise to bring our requests to God about ‘everything’ could we not just as well say ‘but in every thing by prayer’ bring our concerns to God (even as I type this my Word processor has highlighted both’ any thing’ and ‘every thing’ in blue, suggesting I use the compounds).

But for the purpose of this devotional I really wish to highlight both every, and any, thing. Is it really possible to not be anxious about anything, to completely live worry free? If this were our human nature, then there would be no need to tell us this, but Paul himself certainly knew what it was to have concerns and worries. I think he had many concerns about the churches and people he had ministered to for example. However, Paul also learned the secret of living above a life of worry and anxiety, to turn every anxiety into a prayer request and to do so with thanksgiving. While this may seem impossible for us, let’s not forget that Paul reminds us that God’s peace which He gives ‘transcends all understanding’. You don’t have to understand it, this is another reason why we are a people who walk by faith. Remember, Paul wrote this as a prisoner of Rome, certainly he of all people could have reason to worry.

Is there any thing, or even one thing, that you are spending too much time worrying about that instead you could pray about? Maybe we can collect all those various worrisome things that consume so much of our lives and consider them part of everything that God wants to help us with by reassuring with His peace that ‘in all things God works for the good’ (Rom. 8:28).

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