We live in uncertain times and this has been made more obvious with the way the Coronavirus pandemic has caused significant losses to nations, communities, families and individuals in terms of both human and material resources. Although a number of countries are easing back on the lockdowns imposed earlier in the year, it is evident that life as we know it will not be the same in the near future until a vaccine is found to immunise against the virus.
With all of this going on, it is easy to feel worried and anxious. Many have been furloughed for several months and are not sure of getting their jobs back, some have actually been let go of their jobs at a time when most companies are not even recruiting.
As Christians, we not immune to what is happening but how we respond to these things is what sets us apart. Having recently battled with anxiety myself, one scripture has been a great help to me.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 6: 6-7)
If we break these verses into segments, the following are highlighted;
"Don’t worry about anything. " Note the word ‘anything’. Sometimes we tend to categorise the things we think are worth worrying about based on how serious they are and how it affects us. We even make the mistake sometimes about ‘bothering’ God with some seemingly trivial things and because we don’t take it to him, we spend time worrying about them. This verse implies one thing, Nothing should make us worry! I wish I could say it is easy but I can categorically say here that when I chose to take an issue to the Lord, He handles it! Maybe not in the way I expect but it always gets sorted.
“Instead, pray about about everything”. Things will happen that have the potential to make us worry. The writer is saying that the antidote to worrying about something, is to pray about it. I can picture my children needing something. They don’t waste time worrying about how they will have their needs met. They simple come to me and ask, believing that I will not withhold from them, whatever they need. They may in some instance have legitimate needs which I am unable to meet due to the fact that my resources are limited but we have a Heavenly Father who is limitless in resources. This is why the writer is confident in saying, “pray about everything”
“Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done” One of the things I love to do when I pray is to bring back memories of what God has done. It feels funny at times when I say things like, “Father, you remember when I needed a job and you provided two at the same time?” Of course God never forgets but it is my way of reminding myself of what God has and can do and also giving me the opportunity to thank Him again for what He did for me in the past. When I am reminded of what He has done, it bolsters my faith in praying for my present needs.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand”. I have lately began to understand what this means as I make effort to hand over to God, issues that would normally make anxious. I noticed that my focus started shifting away from the problem to the problem solver. Once I sense my mind going over the issue, I talk to God about it. I would like to say that this solves the problem right away, no it doesn’t but what it does is that it de-clutters my mind and helps me focus on what is important.
“His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” When I was thinking about this, I imagined a a building with heavily armed sentries posted at the entrance. You would need to think twice before venturing into such a building except if you have any business being there. One thing the enemy loves to do is make a mess of our minds. It is no wonder that the mind has often been referred to as a battlefield.
We may not be able to do anything about the thoughts that the enemy brings but we have a choice on whether to accommodate those thoughts or prevent them from gaining entrance. God’s peace is a sentry to our hearts when we surrender our anxieties and worries to Him. When we give in to worry and anxiety, what we are doing is telling the sentries, “He’s with me, let him come in” Or “Yes I want her to come in”. Once the host gives permission, the sentries will not counteract that permission even if they think it will not be in the interest of the host to allow that person to enter the house.
When I looked at it this way, it became clear to me why we are told to “be anxious for nothing”. Now I imagine the doorway to my mind and my heart guarded by the sentries of peace and I know that I am the only one who can accommodate any thought capable of making me worry, fear or be anxious. If I don't let them in, God's peace keeps them out.
Is this easy to do? I wish I could shout "Yes!" but I know it is not impossible or else the writer of the book of Philippians would not have said so. I however believe that every time we pray and take anything to the Lord, he sends His peace to guard our hearts from doubts, worry and anxiety.
As long as we believe God's got our backs, His peace will continue to guard our hearts but when we give in to fear and worry, then we deny ourselves of the benefit that His peace gives to us.