“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” – Philippians 4:5
The fact that the Lord is near should produce a reasonableness in my response to others. In order for this kind of response to happen, I need some clarity about what the Lord’s nearness means for me, particularly in frustrating situations.
Because he is the Lord, he is the most important person in the room. Whatever I’m going through, it’s first and foremost about him. It’s not about me or about the person who’s causing problems for me, and the solution to the problem isn’t ultimately found in either of us. The significance and the solution are both found in Christ. His lordship – his preeminence (Col. 1:16) – should reorient my perspective on every situation. That reorientation can begin even before I remember the provision that the Lord offers to me in his nearness.
And I must not forget his provision. As the Lord, he is in control. When I am interacting with an unreasonable person, it feels like that person is hijacking control of my life. Or at least some part of it. It’s unsettling to see part of my life taken over someone who clearly doesn’t have my best interests in mind. And at one level, this can really happen; but the hijacker’s influence is not ultimate. Final and definitive control of my life and all of its details lies with the Lord alone.
The Lord who is near has made promises to me that the unreasonable person can’t break. These are lasting promises that can’t be matched by anyone. He promises to exercise the full force of his power, wisdom, and love to ensure that every detail he assigns to me is worked out for my good. He promises to get me to a place where where fear of the future will be gone forever, and where I will look back without a single regrets about any of his dealings with me.
This Lord, who works for my good in ways that are often painful for me, is not cold and clinical about the pain that process requires. He’s not like the stern, one-dimensional parent who is exclusively concerned about growing up to be big and strong, and entirely unconcerned about how hard it is to develop a taste for broccoli. This is the Lord who calls me to cast all of my cares on him, because he cares for me (1 Pet. 5:7).
Because he is the Lord, it’s his evaluation of me that matters. Someday, when I stand before him, the importance of everyone else’s opinion of me will vaporize. And (unlike me) this Lord is more than reasonable. He is kind. Instead of insisting that I measure up before he accepts me, he has done the measuring up for me.
The Lord’s nearness gives me what I need for stability when it feels like my world is being shaken. His wise and loving control of my life, his unbreakable promises, his personal care for me, his righteousness in exchange for my shame, all come together to form a broad and solid place to stand. But in order to stand there, I need to get there, and I don’t get there by accident. Rather, I get there and stand there by faith.
I prepare to weather tough moments by faith as I commune with the Lord who promises to be near when they arrive. I also prepare for them by applying the truth about the Lord and his nearness in these tough moments. The more I live by the truth in real-life situations, the better I know it, understand it and love it, and the better prepared I am to live by it more fully in the future.