“Delight yourselves in the Lord. Yes, find your joy in Him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever, but tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer. And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, J.B. Phillips)
When I was ill with an operation on my colon, my pastor, Dr. John Dunlap, came to visit me. I had an infection. I was in the hospital 21 days just for that one procedure. I said to him, “John, if you’re here to tell me I have a malignancy, I can’t handle that today.”
He laughed and said, “Reverend, you’re not dying. And so you don’t need dying grace. If you needed dying grace, God would give you dying grace.”
A year later my dear pastor John had a malignancy. He said to me right away (I was there the day he found out), “Pray for me.” He was a big guy, but a big baby when it came to toothaches or anything like that. He had one of the worst malignancies the oncologist had ever seen, but all of us, we never saw such an example of dying grace as God gave our dear pastor. Dying grace. God will give you dying grace when you need it. And dying grace, really, is a supernatural anointing of the Lord that makes it possible for us to accept it. That’s what it is, really. An acceptance. That’s what Paul means by gentleness.
It’s like saying in another way, “Be patient.” Patience, when you think vertically, is faith waiting. And there are many times in our walk with God where God gives us the fruit of the Spirit, patience, which is faith waiting. God’s got to get you out before God can bring you in. You’ve got to keep on going, so you can get through. You’ve got to get right, so you can settle down.
… The Apostle Paul says, “Never forget the nearness of the Lord.” Think of what that meant to him in prison. When it became dangerous to be identified with him, he said in his very last letter, “No one stood with me.” And yet, he adds, “Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me. The Lord is always with me.”
Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)