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
– Philippians 4:6-7
There are a few verses in the Bible that I often want to just ignore. Some are because they tell me to do something I don’t want to, others because they are hard to understand, but verses like Philippians 4:6-7 are particularly hard, because at certain times in my life they feel flat out impossible.
There is Always Something to Worry About
It seems like for most of my life I have found things to worry about. When I was little I was worried about “guys” who I was convinced were going to come into our house at night to rob us or scare me (thankfully my parents gave me a bottle of “guy spray”, a.k.a. air freshener, to keep them away). As I grew older, I was worried about our house catching on fire, or failing an assignment in school. Finally, in adulthood I was faced with what felt like an infinite number of worries. What if I lost my job, what if our basement floods, what if my kids get hurt or sick? Although these are worries that most people deal with, at times I felt they had the ability to surround and smother me. I often let my worry go from concern to despair.
A Life Giving Promise
While at its onset, a directive from God to “not be anxious about anything” feels like an impossible command, but in reality it is a life giving promise. This is because we know the truth that on our behalf God has already fulfilled all of His commands through Jesus and that He has given us the Holy Spirit to move forward as He transforms our hearts. This is clear in Philippians 4:6-7 where God promises that when we make our concern known to God, He will give us the peace of God. This verse is not a harsh command that we are never to worry, nor is it a promise that as followers of Jesus we will never have anything to worry about. Instead it’s a reminder that while we may feel anxious from time to time we are not to be anxious. What we are called to do is live in the knowledge of God’s perfect provision for us, remembering that He gave us Jesus! The peace that surpasses all understanding is God, reminding us that He has given us Jesus who knows our fears and has forever secured an identity for us as sons and daughters of God.
When Worried, Turn to God
So, what can I practically do when I feel overwhelmed by worry? First, I try to pray. In this prayer I try to specifically tell God the exact thing that I’m worried about, no matter how ridiculous or embarrassing it is. I find it helpful to remember as I pray that God is a loving father who cares about my worries. Second, remind yourself of God’s sovereignty through Scripture. For me, this often means digging into Philippians 4, 1 Peter, or Romans 8. In this I want to be saturated with the truth of God’s power instead of my feelings of powerlessness. Third, rest in the truth of God’s love and care for you, putting more worth in your identity in Christ than in your current struggle.
As we tell God about our worry, and believe in His sovereignty, we can rest in our identity in Jesus. Our worries will not magically melt away, and even when they do other worries will come again, but through these things God can give us perspective and peace.