Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything”

Yeah, Right.

Schedules, work, school, kids, relationships, new jobs, old habits, health, perceptions, expectations, me time, us time, and should I even mention money?

“Do not be anxious about anything”

I read that phrase, knowing that it’s in the Bible so I need to pay attention, but my heart doubts mightily that this is even possible.

Because my anxiety about past actions, present commitments, and future unknowns catches me up and lives with me like a buzzing in my ear.

Do not be anxious about anything?

Not anything? What if the worst case scenario happens? What if I’m not prepared? What if disaster strikes and I’m blindsided?

Do not be anxious about anything.

Ok, stop already.

Anxiety, stress, whatever form the heart-racing feeling of lost control takes seems to be a human condition. One that robs us of peace, faith and sometimes hope. It binds us in the what ifs that we can’t predict no matter how much we plan and think it through.

And it’s an incredible burden. The treadmill of consistent thinking and worrying that keeps us running away from this peace that God offers us.

How can we get it to stop?

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guid your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes when I’m worried and people say “have you prayed about it” I think uncharitable thoughts about them.

Of course I’ve prayed about it!

But when my anxiety hits, my knee jerk reaction is to try to figure it out myself and my prayers are throwaway appeasement to my relationship with God. Not actual reliant, offering prayers.

Paul tells us that our prayers prayed through the haze of anxiety are not only to be prayers but petitions. Not just “God I’m worried about this, please help” but “God here’s my problem, here’s what I’d love to see happen”.

The source of my anxiety can be hard to articulate. When I pray, when I lay out every detail of anxiety that comes to mind, I start to see clarity. God can give us clarity through our prayers and help us hit the source of our anxiety. And when we start to see that light, then the petition begins. When the root of my anxiety surfaces, I can tell God how I’d love to see it torn up and burned in the fire.

Tell God what you’d like him to do about your situation. And he may do it, or he may work it out in a wonderful way even better than your suggestion. Because he sees the big picture.

It’s not just ‘help me’ that should focus our prayers, though. Thanksgiving is a crucial element to battling anxiety.

And where does this heart of thanksgiving originate?

“The Lord is near”

This is the phrase that precedes “Do not be anxious” and is the source of our thanksgiving.

“The Lord is near”

In our anxiety, in our fear, stress, uncertainty, micro-managing, God is near.

He is present, sitting with us, gently holding our clasped hands and tightened heart. He is with us as we stare out our windows wishing and hoping and crying inwardly for outward intervention.

He is not a faraway God who tells us to figure it out on our own. He is ever-present, ever merciful, ever-loving, ever powerful to intervene in any situation and equip us for whatever may lie ahead.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand that supernatural peace that God brings in the most uncertain situations.

In the midst of our transition, where my closure loving personality clashes with the process, I prayed for peace. Because I was tied up in the what ifs and then we need to’s of our ambiguous situation.

I prayed for peace and I was pretty sure I might not get it.

But it came. It came in ways that are counter personality and counter intuitive. But it came. And what a gift from God it has been.

But sometimes it threatens to crop up again. And that’s where the guarding my heart and mind in Jesus comes in.

When the anxiety threatens again, I remember with my mind and acknowledge with my heart the peace that God has given me. I recount how he’s been with me through similar and worse. That his presence has never left me and I can see his fingerprints through my life.

And I rejoice.

And I pray and petition.

And the peace comes again.

This kind of life-giving peace is a gift given through process.

As I train my heart and mind towards Jesus and remember his continual presence in my life through loss and gain, my prayers take on old confidence. And the peace comes. The situations may linger, but the peace comes.

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