Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 13, 2012

Be Anxious for Nothing

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.--Philippians 4:6 NIV

My friends and I have a lot of reasons to be anxious, lately, ranging from a desperate search for jobs and income to fears about striking out alone on a new venture, moving, family troubles, starting a family, and health problems.  Add to that stack a pile of worries about the economy, politics, the state of society, and world events, and it seems we are running the full gamut of troubles right now. It can get overwhelming.  In fact, it seems like stepping back and looking at the "big picture" only makes it more overwhelming and frightening. It looks a bit like the whole world is coming to pieces.

But the Bible says "Do not be anxious for anything," so...

There are advice coaches out there who tell us to put our fears out of our minds and "focus on the goals" instead, as if we have a superhuman ability to forget the big scary thing bearing down on us.  Maybe some people have this ability.  I, for one, do not.  If I am able to keep moving, I only make slow progress, pausing frequently to measure the distance between me and my goals, and me and that crazy, charging bear called fear.  Yeah, it's still there, and it still seems a lot closer than the next paycheck, etc.

In fact,  it seems that, "Objects in mirror are closer than they may appear."  Ever been there?

However, if we look at this verse in Philippians a little more closely, we see that it isn't a rebuke, criticizing us for feeling afraid.  It doesn't minimize what we are going through, although we may someday look back and say, "What was I afraid of? Little did I know that good things were just around the corner."  That verse doesn't tell us that those aren't scary things, as if feeling fear is an insane response. It just tells us that we ought to spend that time and energy we are devoting to wholesale worry into doing something better--praying.  

Prayer, by the way, is not a self-induced hypnotism, in which when we say the words, just saying them is calming and soothing.  Prayer is not like a breathing exercise, or eating a piece of chocolate.  Prayer has real power to those who know the Lord (James 5: 16).  It doesn't just temporarily change our mood; it actually changes the situation, even if we don't perceive it at the time.  Why?  Because we are actually speaking to the real God who can fix our problems, and He is actually listening! He is taking extensive notes and collecting every one of our tears (Psalm 56: 8-9).  And because He has heard, He will react.  We can be confident that things are going to change, and that this big, scary thing (whatever it is), has finally met its match! 

Sometimes, God takes away the obstacle immediately, and sometimes He makes us wait for reasons only He knows at the time.  The waiting is the hardest part, after a prayer, because we can't see God or hear Him taking steps to correct the problem (usually), and people tell us we are silly for believing, and more often than not, we feel a bit silly, too.  Despite all of these things, we need to hold on.  Sometimes that is just what God wants to see us do.  We need to remember that we didn't speak to an imaginary God, or a weak power.  He can handle this, and He is handling this.

This is what Philippians 4:7 (the verse that follows the one at the start of this post) is talking about.  It says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  So the full instruction in Philippians 4: 6-7 is (1) when you have a problem that makes you feel anxious, (2) deal with it by presenting it in prayer to a real God, (3) and feel peace beyond what your mind and your heart tells you to feel, because (4) God personally reassures your spirit, demonstrating that He is acting on your behalf.

A friend of mine, a fairly recent convert to Christianity from Hinduism, told me about her recent experience that proved that God hears every prayer.  She said she was lying awake at night, praying about some big things in her life that are not going well, and crying about it.  Finally, she said to God, in her heart and not out loud, "Lord, I just need a hug right now."  She is living with a family currently, and they have a little boy who is not even school age, yet. The next morning, after this silent prayer, this little boy approached her and said, "God told me that I need to hug you," and gave her a big hug!  So, in this way, God sent her the message that He heard the whole thing (even the silent parts), and that He is taking care of it, from the smallest requests to the biggest ones.  I have faith that God is taking care of this situation, though we haven't seen it all, yet, because He has demonstrated that He is already actively taking part in her life.

Likewise, I have faith that God hears and that God is working in all of these other situations that my friends and I are going through, because He already has worked miracles in our lives. These present circumstances are just another situation in which His power can be known.  So I leave with a call to everyone reading this: Don't spend your energy worrying--just pray! Your fears may seem big and strong, but God is so much bigger and stronger.  Hang in there, and give all of your troubles to Him, so that He can lift you up, even in the midst of them.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." --1 Peter 5:7 NIV