Many years ago, I sat with a man in his hospital room. He was scheduled for triple bypass surgery the next day. He was young – in his early 40’s – and appeared physically strong. He had a great family and a great job. Everything seemed to be going his way … until the news came that something wasn’t quite right with his heart.

As we talked that day in the hospital he said, “Pastor, I’m scared and uptight. I need to relax and get my mind thinking positively so I’ll be ready for this surgery. Can you help me?”

I pulled out my New Testament from my coat pocket, turned to Philippians 4, and read the following words from verses 4-9 and 13 from that modern English translation:

Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
And now, brothers, as I close this letter let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. … for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me strength and power.

Then I handed the New Testament to him and said, “Over the next 24 hours I want you to read those verses often. Meditate on them. Think about what Paul is saying there. Let those words move you to the point where you can focus on the positive. Pray and ask God to help you get your mind ready to not only face this surgery but also recuperate from it. If you do this, you will be able to relax and face this surgery in the right frame of mind. God will help you.”

After praying together, I left the New Testament with him and went on about the rest of the day’s ministry. Sometime later after his surgery, I visited him. He returned the New Testament to me with a smile and said, “I did as you suggested. It made all the difference in the world. I was able to relax and get my mind focused on positive thoughts. Thank you.”

When you are going through a crisis and your stress level is rapidly increasing, what passage of scripture do you turn to? I have found the words in Philippians 4:4-9, 13 to be of great comfort and strength. I encourage you to meditate on them regularly and even memorize those words!

Blessings, Bill Duke