The Lord is at Hand
E. J. Davis
We find the scriptural way to personal victory over Mental Anxiety, victory over Bodily Infirmities, and victory in our Spirit Life, in Apostle Paul’s epistles to the church. First consider Paul’s statement in Phil. 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (or at peace).” This is a good start for this thought and could be used also to sum it all up.
Three words just stood out to me, “I have learned.” How did Paul learn? It was by experiences with God in life’s lessons. What did he learn through it all? That in what ever conditions he found himself, to be at peace. “I know both how to be abased: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Vs. 12 and 13. Such an important lesson. We can’t help but notice the order of the schooling. If we never learn how to be abased, we will never know how to abound. We learn to be content with little or even nothing, then God can trust us with much.
To understand what led up to such a victory, we must go back in this chapter. Verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” We have so much to rejoice about, especially the deliverances God has given us from the legality and carnality of our own flesh. May we rejoice continually in the Lord. We dare not boast in our victories, but ever rejoice in Christ our Savior, having no confidence in the flesh (essential to winning Christ).
Verse 5, “Let your moderation (forbearance, or yieldedness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” He is at hand to enable us to maintain a victorious attitude as we run our race course.
Verse 6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Be not anxious or troubled for nothing. Many things will arise that could trouble us, but mental anxiety is not faith and leaves God out. But by prayer and supplication we find, “the Lord is at Hand.” Prayer here means worship and supplication means an entreaty for a need. To call upon the Lord “with thanksgiving” is real faith, that we expect an answer. Faith is the victory. Our desired answer may not come at once, but a far greater thing will be granted.
Verse 7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (or guard) our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” What more could we ask? Safely guarded by God’s peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. Not only did Paul learn this victory over mental anxiety, but he passes it on to us to learn. Remember the account of Martha and Mary? Martha was consumed with mental anxiety. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, thou art troubled about many things.” In saying her name twice denotes a tone of correction. Mary by contrast found peace at Jesus feet, listening to His words.
Paul also learned an outstanding victory over his bodily infirmities, he even gloried in them. II Cor. 11:30, “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” We learn how this came to pass in the next chapter. II Cor. 12:1-5, tells that Paul had received special visions and revelations from the Lord. He relates a vision he had 14 years ago, how he was caught up to the third heaven, into paradise and heard unspeakable words which he could not utter. He said he knew not if he was in his body and out of it, God knoweth. Most men would glory in them, but Paul delayed 14 years in mentioning this and in modesty tells of it as if it were another person and not himself. He always wanted the peoples eyes to be on the Lord and never on him.
Verses 6-8, “though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” God allowed some affliction in Paul’s flesh. It was a messenger of Satan, but the Lord had to allow it and what He allows is always for our good. The value for Paul was that he would not be lifted up, nor people putting him on a pedestal because of the revelations God had given him.
Paul sought the Lord for it to be removed. The Lord answered his prayer, with a promise of strength. Verse 9, The Lord said “MY grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Most people are more concern to know just what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh, but very few care to learn the meaning and purpose of the thorn. God’s interest should be our chief concern “My grace” and “My strength.” What a glorious victory over his infirmities, knowing that Christ’s power rested on him.
I believe this victory lesson led to spiritual victories in all phases of Paul’s life as the next verse bares this out. Verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches (the insults of men), in necessities (suffering want), in persecutions, in distresses (being pressed above measure), for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” He learned the source and supply of unfailing strength. He took pleasure in such things, for when he had no strength, the dynamic power of God was his strength. He knew he could not get along without God any where or any time. May we not rob Christ of His place in us. Eph. 6:10, “Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”