Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t be anxious” is much easier said than done. And yet, that’s not the full picture of what Paul is saying in this verse. Instead of just making a command to feel better or think better out of our own will power, he tells us to seek the peace and rest of God. Anxiety and worry are opposites of rest. When we are ruminating on what may go wrong or running through checklists and scenarios in our minds, we cannot rest in God at the same time.
Let me note, there is a difference between worry, which everyone experiences, and Anxiety as a diagnosable condition, which not everyone experiences. If Anxiety is something you have dealt with you may have had this verse shared with you by well-meaning people. Or been given similar advice of “just don’t worry about it, or pray more, and you’ll be fine!” If this is your experience please don’t dismiss this verse out of hand. This passage, and Scripture as a whole, still has something to say to you.
We are holistic beings, created with a body, a mind, and a soul. What happens to us physically can affect us mentally or spiritually, and vice-versa. Even if the Anxiety or worry you are experiencing has mental and physical roots, the spiritual- presenting your requests to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving- does have an impact on how you weather the Anxiety or worry even if it isn’t taken away completely. And whatever you are wrestling with, the peace of God is something we all long for in these turbulent times.
Try practicing what these verses say this week. When you feel worry or Anxiety creeping in, pray. Surrender the fear and concern to Jesus. Reflect on what is going well and a source of gratitude and give thanks for it. Seek the peace of God and see how God responds.
By Jessica Rust