Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Anxiety and Fear are two of my constant struggles.
In the last two, really three, years our family has gone through several upsets and traumas. These include deaths, a major restructuring of the house including massive downsizing, a move out of state in the middle of a pandemic, the pandemic itself, loss of friends, loss of relationship with some extended family… just multiple things.
I already struggle with anxiety and I know at least one of my six children does too. These issues over the last few years have only highlighted our problems and made me really confront these giants in my life. In my attempt to help fight this battle and to guide my children through those battles, I’m attempting to write down some things that I think God is trying to teach us.
Anxiety and Fear in the Bible
These verses in Philippians really do address anxiety and fear. The two often go hand in hand. In my life, they’ve been the two giants who just keep getting back up even when I think they’ve been knocked down for good.
Let me just say first, I’m not trying to discount anyone else’s struggle with anxiety either, nor their methods of helping themselves cope. If medication is one of your methods, please don’t think that I’m disparaging that. This is a choice between you, your doctor, and God, and God sometimes uses the medical field to affect changes in our health as well.
So now, let me get back to Philippians. In these two verses, God is telling us about several very deliberate actions He wants us to take when faced with fear and anxiety. Be careful for nothing – be deliberately grateful, be direct with God about our needs.
You Don’t Just “Get Over It”
Notice God did not tell us to “just get over it.” He tells us what specific action to take in order to hand our anxiety back to God.
God doesn’t condemn us for having this struggle. He simply lays out a plan to follow, a step by step instruction manual on handling each specific fear, each specific instance of anxiety.God doesn’t condemn us for struggling with anxiety… Click To Tweet
The word “careful” here literally means “troubled with cares.” God is not telling us to ignore our concerns, He’s instead telling us not to allow them to trouble you. This is a deliberate, purposeful action. You are not at the whim of your anxiety and fear, you are to take a specific action. Purpose not to be troubled by them.
How do we do that?
The Power of Thanksgiving
In every thing, every little thing, first find something to be thankful for. Anything. Find it. Be purposeful about doing it.
Then let your request come before God. Whatever that care is, whatever that fear is about, let God know it. Tell God something you’re thankful about in this situation and then ask for God’s provision.
What about if the anxiety is more of a general feeling, there’s nothing really to be anxious about in your circumstances but you’ve got this anxious reaction going on?
Isn’t that a request too? Make your request for peace known to God. He will answer, because in the next verse, that’s exactly what He promises. His Peace.
This second verse talks about the peace of God being what keeps you.
I think we spend a lot of energy trying to gain peace. We try to take this anxiety and force it into a sort of truce, try to make it actually be peace instead of fear or anxiety. But that’s not what God says.
God says He will give us His peace – a peace that passes all of our understanding. I have felt this peace before, in a profoundly unforgettable way.
Twenty years ago, I had a traumatic miscarriage at five months gestation. He would have been 20 years old this last February. I found out that he was gone on a Monday but I could not get into the hospital until that next Thursday. I spent the next two days in great fear and anxiety, great trauma, until I went to church on that Wednesday. It was at that time that God reminded me of the sermon from the evening service the Sunday before – before I even knew anything was wrong. This sermon was all about the grace of God taking care of you in every thing. That was when God’s peace came over me. When I turned to Him, His peace took over and it carried me through the next days of being in the hospital, dealing with everything we had to go through in that process.
God’s peace was my shield.
Even in your greatest traumas and anxieties and fearful things, God’s peace is what keeps our hearts safe.
You cannot create that peace on your own. You cannot force it to come. It is when we let go and ask God to cover us that His peace is able to descend on us.
You are Not Alone
I don’t know who needs to hear this now, but I want you to know that you are not alone in your fears. God sees you, God knows your anxieties. God does not condemn you for it. He only wants you to reach out to Him on a daily basis, letting God deal with those giants as only He can, each and every time they get back up.You are not alone in your fears. God sees you, He knows your anxieties, and He does not condemn you for it. Click To Tweet
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.Psalm 55:22
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.Psalm 61:2