In my last post we listened to the Apostle Peter’s exhortation regarding how we might deal with anxiety. Peter doesn’t deny that we might experience anxiety, he simply reminds us to give those anxieties to the Lord who cares for us.
In this post, I want to look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to one of his favorite communities, the church at Philippi, on the same issue.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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 4:5–7 ESV
Becoming a Christian does not shield us from the challenges of life. Jesus does not promise us that if we follow Him then our lives will be easy. In fact, He promises the exact opposite in John 16:33:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
But the Apostle Paul wanted the Philippian church to know that it is possible to find God’s peace in any circumstance. His first reminder to them is that ‘the Lord is at hand.’
Oh, how quickly we can forget this reality.
God is not far from us.
Jesus has promised that He will always be with us (Matthew 28:20).
Thankfulness calms the storm
In circumstances where we experience anxiety, a great place to start is by giving thanks that God is at hand. We may not feel it, but it doesn’t make God’s promise any less true. By remembering this truth, we begin to squeeze out the anxious imaginations that we entertain of the circumstance without God in the picture. As God comes into view, our circumstance takes its rightful place — which is under the Lordship of Christ.
Then Paul tells the Philippians to bring our requests to God through prayer, supplication and with thanksgiving.
Too often, we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). So we make our circumstances periphery to God. We don’t let Him in. He asks to be at the center so we can be able to bring our anxious thoughts to Him, with an attitude of thankfulness!
We are not thankful for being anxious; we are thankful that God is at hand and we can bring our anxiety to Him. Sometimes this takes only a few seconds. Other times, we need to intentionally engage in prayer until we sense thankfulness and peace beginning to rise up in us. I cannot tell you how long this will take, only that we are exhorted to remain intentional in bringing our requests to God with the expectation that He will release His peace, which is not like the peace the world gives (John 14:27). In fact, His peace will overwhelm our mind (surpasses our understanding).
God with us
Outwardly, our circumstances may not have changed. What has changed is that we now see Jesus in His rightful place and have placed our trust in Him to act.
Steve Backlund of Igniting Hope Ministries, often says “our hopelessness about a problem is a bigger problem than the problem!” When we feel the anxiety of hopelessness trying to creep in and steal our peace, it’s time to ask God to show us how he is at hand and then to begin giving thanks, along with submitting our prayers and requests to him.
Don’t let fear and anxiety steal your peace!
A prayer for you:
“Heavenly Father, I thank You that You are at hand! I invite you into my present circumstance as Lord. I thank You for Your promise to be with me always and I bring my requests to You now, just as You invited us to. Please release your peace over my mind and guard my heart from any further anxiety and fear. Amen.”