Be Anxious for Nothing
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”
According to the CDC, a third of Americans are experiencing anxiety or depression during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the prior year, just 11 % reported these symptoms in a similar survey. Many factors are causing this increased anxiety: from the uncertainty of the disease itself, to the death of loved ones, to the loneliness and isolation caused by the shut down, to the loss of income and financial strains, to dysfunctional relationships and domestic abuse. To make matters worse, the fear and anxiety are compounded now by the racial unrest engulfing our country. These are anxious times we live in.
When the pandemic hit America and we were shut down, I have to admit, I was anxious. I was anxious about the disease and all the unknowns. I was worried that my mom who is in poor health, or my wife, or I could come down with Corona virus. I was anxious about our church and our preschool. The first three weeks of the shut down for me was extremely stressful. Everything we turned to before in times of stress and anxiety, like our daily routines, was totally upended. I needed peace of mind.
My thoughts went immediately to Philippians 4:7 “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” For believers, the question becomes, how do we obtain that peace? The answer is found in verse 6.
The apostle Paul is separated and isolated from his friends in jail cell in Rome. He knows he is either going to die or be set free. He has come to peace with his situation. He wants to encourage the church at Philippi, who is experiencing increased persecution. They could be beaten, arrested, exiled, or executed. They were living in anxious times as well.
He tells them in chapter 4:6 to “be anxious for nothing...” or as the NLT states it: “Don’t worry about anything…”
We all have been probably told not to worry or be anxious about things. Many of us have offered the advice not to worry to others as well. Paul is not just saying don’t worry or not to be anxious. He points us to prayer in our anxiety. When something triggers my anxiety, I tend to be a nail biter, a stress eater, and a jerk.
Paul is saying to me, the nail biting, stress eating, jerk, and to you that we should pray and be completely open and honest to God about our anxieties. We should also seek counsel, but not at the expense of prayer. After all, Jesus is our “Wonderful Counselor.”
When we do that, the “peace…which surpasses all under all understanding” begins to calm our hearts and minds. We experience the very peace that the world so desperately looking for right now. Let them see that peace in us during this time of great anxiety.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.