Guarding Against Anxiety

The apostle Paul exhorted the Philippian brethren, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4.6-7).

Someone once said that worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Still, most of us (perhaps all of us) must confess that we worry. Jesus said not to do that because God already knows what we need. If we will seek first His kingdom (i.e. His reign over us) and His righteousness (i.e. a right relationship with Him), He will add to us all the things about which we’re inclined to worry.

Paul gave the Philippians three alternatives to worry: prayer, supplications, and thanksgiving. Prayer is the generic word for communication with God. Supplication is a stronger and more specific term meaning a powerful plea that is made in particularly difficult circumstances that might otherwise move us to worry. But don’t forget thanksgiving. Even under the most trying situation, we have abundant reasons to be thankful!

When we trust the Lord with our burdens rather than worrying about them, we are blessed with the peace of God that passes all understanding. That peace guards our hearts and minds.

“Guard” is a military term that paints a helpful word picture. Think of your heart as a city. Inside that city live the thoughts of your mind. However, a dangerous enemy also lurks within the city: worry. The peace of God is like a garrison of soldiers stationed in and around the city (your heart). The peace of God drives away the enemy (worry). That same garrison of soldiers (God’s peace) continues to guard against the enemy (worry) in the event that it returns. What safety! What perfect peace!

We sing: “Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge – take it to the Lord in prayer.” We can add a post-script to that stanza: “And leave it there!” To take something to the Lord in prayer but still continue to worry about it is enormously incongruous. It lacks faith in Christ’s care and His ability to help us in our time of need.

We must cast our worries on Him, because “He cares for us” (1 Pet. 5.7). And, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13.5-6). [-Adapted]