It’s no secret that large numbers of Americans have been afflicted with significant levels of anxiety over the last decade. Though we’ve known this for some time, the problem …
It’s no secret that large numbers of Americans have been afflicted with significant levels of anxiety over the last decade. Though we’ve known this for some time, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Study after study continues to indicate the rise in anxiety among various age groups, even affecting our youth.
But the problem feels more intense these days. I’m guessing that current events like the situation in Afghanistan, the crisis on our southern border, the new surge in COVID cases and the divided state of our nation have increased the general level of anxiety in many people around us.
In Luke 12, Jesus shared with his disciples an important perspective on worry and anxiety that we need today. The bottom line of his words is this: If we realized how valuable we are to our father in heaven, we would know that he is going to take care of us, and we wouldn’t be anxious.
Jesus makes a comparison between how God takes care of the birds and the flowers and how he will take care of us. Since we are more valuable to him than birds and flowers, will he not take care of us? So, Jesus taught us to trust in our father God who loves and cares for us. He doesn’t want us to be consumed with anxiety.
But worry and anxiety can be persistent and stubborn, and sometimes it can feel like we are powerless against its control. Philippians 4:6-7 gives Paul’s direct counsel on the issue of anxiety. It reads, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
From this, Paul simply commands the Philippian Christians to stop worrying. That may not seem like realistic advice to someone who has been locked up in anxiety for years, yet it makes clear that God himself doesn’t want us to live in worry. In fact, it is written with emphasis: Be anxious, be fearful, be fretful … about nothing! The reason is that anxiety erodes a person’s confidence and trust in God’s guidance and provision. It trains us to think, “I am really on my own here … I may not make it through … I have to figure this out by myself.” But God doesn’t want you to live like that.
Going further, Paul doesn’t merely say that we should stop being anxious, he says we should replace worrying with something else: prayer. It is not just that we should stop worrying, it is that we need to replace anxiety with prayer and any fixation on anxious thoughts with a focus on the Lord. Prayer is talking with God, and it should be instinctive and constant throughout our daily lives. And Paul indicates here that as we talk to God and make requests, we move closer to God.
There’s a big payoff for a life that is characterized by prayer. It is a peace that comes from God that surpasses understanding. So, peace finds its source in prayer. Even in the midst of the chaos and trials of this life, there is a peace that comes from God and is able to guard and protect your mind through Jesus Christ. Think on that, and then go to God in prayer. And then, keep on doing that. He wants to hear from you.
All of this is available to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, who trusts that he died for their sins, and who knows the free gift of salvation in Christ. May you find peace through prayer in the challenging days ahead!
(David Pool is the senior pastor of Grace Point.)