Philippians 4: 6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If you’re one of us who are prone to worry or struggle with anxiety you’ve probably had these two verses of scripture quoted to you on one occasion or another by a well-meaning individual whose heart was in the “right place,” yet the timing of their counsel was simply not quite ideal, nor did it help to sooth the difficulty of your immediate circumstances. Often times wise counsel can be shared, even biblical references, but if not given at the appropriate time can cause a person to find themselves more discouraged and feeling even more defeated than when they first shared their concerns. Therefore, we must always proceed with caution and with much prayer as we seek to help those around us who are struggling along their journey with anxiety.
In his book, Can God Use My Anxiety For Good?, Author, Pastor, and Therapist Rhett Smith shares some very powerful insights into how God just may have some remarkable plans to use anxiety in your life to do His amazing work. He first poses a very important question to his readers, “What if God is using anxiety in your life to speak to you?” Then secondly, he speaks a word of CAUTION to anyone attempting to half-heartedly or quickly counsel those who struggle with anxiety and the possible setbacks it can cause for those individuals, “If we simply quote scriptures toward others such as the “catch-all” scripture quote, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6) we inadvertently deflect our helplessness to help others who are struggling and in turn, they are no better off in their personal struggles with anxiety. When we discourage others from safely expressing their anxiety, then we are essentially saying to them that anxiety is a bad emotion, and that it is something to be done away with. It communicates to them that something is perhaps wrong with their Christian faith and they begin to internalize the message, “I’m a Christian. I’ not supposed to be anxious.”
Rhett continues in his book to explain how God can use our anxiety to motivate us to move forward in our daily lives to press into Jesus, being able to break free of things that once paralyzed us, and learn to walk freely in the grace the Lord has given us to follow Him without worry and fear. Rhett states, “Perhaps anxiety is a gift of grace because it encourages us to face our fears, so that that we can then choose to freely follow God where He is calling us to go. Anxiety beckons us not to allow our lives to get stuck in a rut. If God gives us freedom and allows possibility, then maybe God has hardwired anxiety into us as part of those choices in a way that propels us to seek after Him and continually grow in the process.”
Today, remember that if feelings of anxiety, worry, restlessness, and the heaviness of life come calling, God is near – invite Him directly into your circumstances through praying specifically about your situation “making your requests with thanksgiving.” With the active response of reaching out to our Lord and Savior, we do receive this promise in verse 7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” What a comfort to know that we can boldly approach our Lord through His grace moment by moment in our time of need, and that He will indwell us with His Spirit of peace.
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, I thank You today for Your promise to meet us in our moments of anxiety, worry, or fear and to deliver Your all-surpassing peace within our circumstances. Thank You for always being available to hear our heart-felt requests for help and reminding us of Your faithfulness. May You use the anxious moments of our lives to cause us to pursue You more diligently and to be moved toward a greater depth of faith as You carry us along the journey. Give us strength to step out in faith in the midst of our anxious moments allowing You to meet us on those paths to spiritual victory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.