Fathers and mothers are holding their children tighter than ever these days. Even as anxiety sits heavy in the air, God wants us to feel that same kind of squeeze from him.
I admit, the climbing numbers, the lockdowns, the stories of men my age dying, all started to get to me. The good part? I’m in touch with my emotions. The hard side? How to manage those racing thoughts, and not let them stifle God’s presence, something I treasure above all things.
How do you and I find peace in a storm the likes of which no one has seen?
Answer: “Be anxious for nothing…”
These words jump off the pages of scripture, offer a glint of hope, but can also feel world’s away from our day to day. Another translation says, “Don’t worry about anything!” Easier said than done, right? Yet, these four words are the secret to walking in peace, because they point to what, all along, God offers to his children—the gift of God’s presence.
“Be Anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.
Prayer makes the connection with his presence possible.
Supplication drives us closer through honest focused desire.
Thanksgiving reminds us that our unchanging God will do as he has done before.
Prayer is designed by God to hold our heart close to him—get this, long enough for us to begin to believe he is good enough, powerful enough, and wise enough to take care of us. Basically, so we can feel the squeeze! Anxiety cannot share space with supplication, because our hearts beat one dominant emotion at a time. As we press into God, anxious thoughts have no place to go, but gone. In that space gratitude grows, a sure sign we begin to see things from God’s point of view.
But does God expect all anxiety to be out of our lives? Is Phil 4:6 a magic formula for peace? I don’t think so. He expects a human response to what we can’t control, but he wants to use that to mitigate prayer. Do you see it? We all grow anxious, yet God can use it to alert our senses, remind us of our birthright, and lead us into prayer. He will use it like the sound of a dinner bell. When anxiety rises loud in us, it can remind us to drop to our knees, and run for the table. Psalm 23 says, “he has set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” The table is set for two. He’s there waiting, ready to put the squeeze on!
When you’re at the table:
Take Time: Take stock at the end of each day, and bring whatever God shows you into the light. Three ways to approach anxiety:
- Take captive each anxious thought. These are the pesky ones, that pop up from news feeds, or a serious report about an associate or friend.
- Journal the hard to shake ones. We are all prone to one level or anxiety or another. Journaling helps us process any patterns developing.
- Talk with someone. Find that one safe person who you can share honestly how you’re doing.
Care not for tomorrow: Take it one day at a time. During the darkest days of my recuperation from two heart procedures last year, I read JP Moreland’s “Finding Quiet.” In it he shared a simple discipline: he doesn’t think about tomorrow’s schedule, until he wakes up that morning.
Walk out God’s will: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for that is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
For some of us the dinner bell is loud, and for others faint. Whatever it may sound like for you, does God hear the clamor of his children’s feet rushing to table?