I was thinking today about grief, and I’m reminded that there are many points of grief in our lives which we fail to recognize. We see the big ones – death of a loved one, severing of a friendship – but the smaller ones go unnoticed. They sting and cut and slowly cause grave injury. They color our worldview and our perspective of others. The big griefs, we face head-on, determined not to let them stop us. The small ones, we ignore, and all too often, they are our undoing.
They say that inner peace is illusive – that we are destined to wrestle with our demons and to be anxious in our thoughts. But God says differently. In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul encourages his readers:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. (Philippians 4:6-7)
It’s a familiar passage, but one I read afresh this morning in the midst of thinking about all the logistics of our move to Kenya, all the money to be raised and plans to be made. “Do not be anxious about anything…”
That’s a pretty tall order. Thankfully, Paul gives us the key to this lack of anxiousness. Prayer and petition, infused with thanksgiving, leads to the peace we seek. And when I think about those words, it makes sense. Bringing a request to God, while recognizing the many times and ways he has been faithful to me in the past, is a way of tying the past, present and future together. He has been faithful. He is faithful. Thus, he will be faithful.
Suddenly, the things that might beg for anxiety shrink in the light of God’s faithfulness. The overwhelming concerns of this world dissipate in the presence of the one who created the world and who has overcome it.
The key to peace, then, is found in this thanksgiving-laden prayer – bringing our requests before God while simultaneously thanking him for his faithfulness. The outcome of these prayers, Paul says, is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” and that “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I’m in. Let’s do this thing!
Wherever I go and whoever I talk to about my relationship with Kenya, one point I always try to make is that the relationship between the “developed” world and the “developing” world (in my case, between Americans and Kenyans) doesn’t have to be a one-way relationship. There is a myth that has been advanced by both “first world” and “third world” people that says that those from developing nations must always be on the receiving end of the transaction and those from developed nations must always be on the giving end.
One of the most profound moments I’ve had in Kenya was on my first trip there when I made a simple statement to the church where I was speaking – a statement attached to a request. “I know you want me to pray for you,” I said, “but I think you have something to offer as well. I would like you to pray for me.” The people of that small church were shocked at the idea that they had anything to offer. They had been convinced that they were supposed to always be recipients. The pastor of that church, with whom I am now friends, was moved to tears (very unusual in Kenyan culture). “Who knew,” he said, “that Africans had anything to offer an American.”
With that backdrop, I present to you Richard Turere, a Kenyan boy whose ingenuity not only got outside the box of traditional thinking within one of Africa’s oldest tribes, but whose invention could become a game-changer all over the world. If he had any doubt before, Richard now knows that Africans have a lot to offer the rest of us!