“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV).
People of this age suffer from anxiety more than any other generation before us. We make plans for the future, seeing bright possibilities in front of us, only to be disappointed or frustrated when they don’t work out. We’re trying to make ends meet in a difficult economy while still longing to pursue the dreams we’re passionate about. We live in a world that’s in a constant state of distress, there is an opportunity to worry around every corner, and the future seems more cloudy than ever before. The bigger question is what as Christians do we do about it.
The Philippians 4:6-7 scripture passage is an invitation to check our hearts. We are not criticized or berated for our anxiety or fear, we’re redirected and refocused. Paul is telling us that instead of being anxious or fearful about your present circumstances, lift your eyes and your perspective to the One who is ultimately in control. When anxiety and fear set in we are offered an opportunity to examine where our trust is placed. Do you have faith that God is as good as He says he is? Do you trust that God is a good Father who loves His children? Or are you busy trying to control outcomes?
Unbelief is the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. When we lack faith, we’re inviting fear into our hearts and asking it to move right in. We cannot fix this on our own. Navigating the change from anxiety to belief, from fear to faith, only comes through the Holy Spirit, who transforms our hearts and minds.
Paul didn’t write in Philippians 4 that when we pray God will magically fix things. Instead, he wrote that God’s peace would flood our hearts and minds, and an impossible level of calm will surround our emotions and our thoughts. When our minds and hearts are in a state of chaotic, anxious fear, God’s peace is there first. God’s peace blocks out the anxiety and uncertainty of life.
When anxiety and chaos surround us, we need to “think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth”(Colossians 3:2) and come to God with “…all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7). There are things we can’t control and be out of control often results in fear. But what we can control, is our attitude and our response when circumstances zap our hope and have faith in God that He is in control and things will work according to His plans. The truth is you cannot handle everything that happens to you in your life, but God can, Lamentations 5:17 says “Our hearts are sick and weary, and our eyes grow dim with tears.” But verse 19 adds, “But Lord, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation.”
- Knowing God and His Word allows us to face our fears with faith. Why? How can you do this in practical ways?
- It’s not uncommon to be anxious when life gets hard. What does this imply about what we believe about God?