Big Buts of the Bible #9
"Do not be anxious about anything, BUT in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
This is one verse we would all do well to memorize. The Apostle Paul includes this amongst a series of exhortations to believers in Philippi. To be a human being means that you are subject to all the chances and changes of life. Those believers Paul wrote to in the first century church had the added dangers of being associated with Christ in an environment very unfriendly to their faith.
The big 'but' in the middle of this verse stands not so strongly to condemn anxious feelings, but rather to prescribe the sure remedy available to believers. Paul was encouraging believers to adopt a more positive perspective on their situations, that of knowing God is in control.
Note especially that word 'everything'. I am conscious of how often we mistakenly use broadly inclusive language. For instance, consider how often a waitress might ask "How is everything?" Have you ever given a waitress as broad an answer? "Well, I have a really bad case of athlete's foot right now, I've been a little constipated and..." But, when Paul says 'everything' here, he means just that! As Peter reminds us "Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). All your cares. Nothing is too big or too small.
And this big but comes with a sweet promise found in verse 7 (I won't include the text here so as to encourage us all to go look it up). This promise, and really the overall section of exhortations here in Phil. 4:4-9, makes this passage worthy of my suggesting it is the 9th biggest 'but' in the New Testament.