Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6, 7 NIV)
I opened the door.
“Welcome,” I said. “I sensed you might stop by today. Have a seat. I’ll put on the tea kettle.”
Even before she sat down, Anxiety jumped right in. “What are you going to do about money?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know.” I wrung my hands. “I could work. I want to work.” My thoughts started spinning. “Not really full time and not at a retail store. But I’ll do – whatever.”
“It’ll run out – eventually – and then what?” Anxiety goaded. “It’ll be too late then.”
I agreed wholeheartedly as the whirlwind accelerated.
We sipped our tea.
“Your husband,” Anxiety whispered knowing she treaded on thin ice here, “he doesn’t really get it. He’s oblivious.”
“Or,” I quickly countered, “He knows God will care for us.”
Anxiety smiled that smug “as if” smile of hers. “You should look for a job now. Push ahead. Don’t wait.”
The whirlwind spiraled.
“Yes,” I said. “I will. I am. I have.”
She finished her tea and drew back for the sucker punch. “You probably won’t even find one, you know.” Anxiety pummeled me. “It’s your age. Your experience. You cost too much. Why hire you when they can get someone much cheaper?”
“I’ll accept cheaper.”
Ignoring me, she continued. “Plus your skill set is too broad. You worked all those years and for what?”
As I added my own accusations, the tornado force winds spun me off the ground. “It’s a shabby, gray, just-get-by existence for you. You should know better. Hasn’t God always taken care of you? Oh you of so very little faith.”
And so it was I spent a day bemoaning my existence and worrying about the future, my husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and their children, retirement, and the country. Also, my dog, at eight, might have only five or so more years to live, love, and enjoy.
Eventually, it occurred to me that I hadn’t glanced at my Bible in over a week let alone hung-out with my best friend, Prince of Peace. Hmm. With those thoughts, the tornado dispersed and I dropped to the floor
Anyone who lives with anxiety, that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, knows how easily it sneaks up and how difficult it is to quiet. Some of us have lived with it so long, we think it’s normal.
Telling me to stop worrying, like my husband tries to do, is meaningless. If I could stop being anxious by obeying an order, I would. I don’t want to live in this fretful state. I just don’t always remember how to make the spinning stop once it’s started.
In the Amplified Bible, the phrase “fear not” appears fifty-six times, “fret not” and “do not be anxious” four times each. God instructed Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man and conqueror of the Promised Land, to fear not and to be strong and courageous three times in the first nine verses of the book of Joshua.
God knows us, knows how we’re anxious and fretful, so he developed a plan. It’s found in Philippians 4.
Step 1 – Eyes up. Communicate. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests). Prayer is simply talking to God. Whether I talk, write, or think the prayers, God tells me to bring all of my anxieties, worries, and concerns – everything, no limitations, no conditions – to Him for He cares for me affectionately and watchfully (I Peter 5:7).
Step 2 – Eyes out. Develop gratefulness. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving. Thankfulness forces me to look up, around, and outside of myself. It changes the focus from me, myself, and I to the world around me and to the God who made it.
Step 3 – Eyes fixed. Stand firm. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. It’s not a one-time prayer, at least not for me. We’re in a battle and we need to stay the course, to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking (Matthew 7:7). Before worry starts to assail me, I need to determine in my heart that God has my back and stay focused on Him when the attacks come.
God’s promise in Philippians 4:7 says as we bring our cares to Him, thank Him, and continue in Him, His peace which passes all understanding will garrison and mount guard over our hearts and minds. Isaiah 53:5 says it this way. The chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has already paid the price so that we can have peace, His peace. He said in the world we’ll have trials and tribulations but be of good cheer, He’s overcome it.
Father, – Oh, how I need my heart and mind guarded these days. When anxiety knocks, remind me of this teaching. Help me to immediately turn to you, to trust You will care for me. I give You the specific cares on my heart today and am determined to leave them there. Let your praise be ever on my lips and bubbling over in my heart. You are so good, Lord. Keep my eyes focused on you. Eyes up, eyes out, eyes fixed. Amen. It shall be so.