In the letter to the Philippians, Paul presented something of a paradox when he said, “Be anxious for nothing (4:6)!”
These often quoted words we love them adorned in artsy frames, on the one hand, and find them seemingly impossible to put into practice, on the other.
Let’s be honest, we secretly believe that we get a pass from obeying this particular command. We tell ourselves that it simply can’t mean anything. Not when we suffer trials that are altogether devastating. Surely God knows our human frame. He knows we can’t control the anxious thoughts that bombard us — nor the shortness of breath, the heart racing, or the restless nights that can accompany those thoughts, right?
Yes, God knows our human frame, hence the reason he inspired Paul to write those words in the first place.
Anxiety consumes. It commands the breadth of our thoughts, and fills them with dread. Unfurling its scroll of worst-case scenarios, it extinguishes hope and pummels our faith. A favorite tool of the enemy, it’s effective in the silencing and the drowning out of God’s voice, not to mention trumpeting our fears.
When we’re hit with the cares of this world, it’s hard to avoid those anxious thoughts. Our God knows. “Do not be anxious about anything” doesn’t mean we will never feel anxious. The verse is telling us what to do with it — give it to God. Philippians 4:6 reads in its entirety:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Beloved of God, when you pray basking in the presence of God, everything including every worry must take a knee in the submission of the most powerful being in the known and unknown universes.
Prayer redirects our attention from the all-consuming problem to our all-powerful God. Before our thoughts can rehearse every hopeless scenario that could attend the problem, we intentionally set our minds on things above. We’re reminded that we have hope and help. We’re reminded that even this hardship is subject to the sovereignty of God, and that he remains in control.
Henceforth let me remind you for every command God gives, He also appends a promise. In verse 7 of this same chapter Paul inspired by God wrote, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t it funny, subconsciously this is exactly what we want, but unfortunately our actions often reflects the opposite.
My brothers and my sisters, God always delivers on His promises if we obey His commands. David reminds us in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
This promise of peace (aka) sanity in the midst of trouble is such a powerful promise. Such grace! Such reassurance! When we look to the Lord in the midst of anxiety, His peace will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, His peace will stand at the gates, refusing to allow anxious thoughts to enter.
Perhaps, you have prayed and those anxious thoughts continues to mentally billow in like the waves in an ocean. Well, follow the prescription written in I Thessalonians 5:17, “…pray without ceasing…..” We don’t need to only rest in Jesus, we need to also cleave to Jesus. It’s to our benefit to be mindful that apart from the vine the branch can do nothing (John 15:5). We can’t fight any of life’s battles without Him, nor should we want to!! We hide and shelter in Jesus no matter what anxious thoughts may come because His unmatchable peace is our most powerful protection. In Christ, we are promised a never-ending supply of grace, an overfilling measure of mercy, and an unyielding amount of love!
Thank You Jesus for allowing us to dump all our trash on Your alter and in return, dispensing a more than enough measure of peace, protection, and promise.