Passage: Philippians 4:6-7
“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 surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Stocks Fall on Weak Economic Data ~ Flash-mob Violence spreads in several American cities ~ Social-media-fueled riots worries London residents ~ Double-digit Unemployment in 8 States.
If you spend any time watching or reading the news these days, you may want to keep a paper bag beside you in case you start hyper ventilating. Violence is rampant everywhere you look. There seems to be very little hope of imminent recovery for our economy; our political system is corrupt and the greatest nation on earth is quickly losing its status as an unbeatable super power. Our hopes, our security, our pride… they are quickly falling at our feet, one day at a time. The foundation of America, the Great, has been shaken.
What about in your small world? I can sit here and think about so many people who are unemployed, some who are fighting cancer and others who have lost dear family members. I remember this sweet, godly mother, whose 8 year old son is fighting what seems like a losing battle against a deadly form of cancer. There are enough reasons in the world and even in our close midst to lose hope and panic.
As I write these lines, right before my eyes is a picture of our two precious girls, happily holding each other. Their eyes are full of reassurance and joyful peace. They don’t worry, for they know that their mom and dad will provide. They don’t fret, because they trust that when they ask us for something and if we are able to provide it, as long as it is something that will be good for them, they should get it. No anxiety, no fretting, no begging, no paper bags. They just know that we are there for them. They know that when the school bell rings, mom will be there. They know that when they get home, they will be able to eat. They know that tomorrow will be the same. For they trust us. They know we love them and will never forsake them. They don’t suffer from what Paul called in Philippians 4:6 – “distracting care”.
The main Greek word “merimna” translated in most Bibles as “anxious” or “careful” is defined as “dividing or distracting the mind; distracting care, trouble.” 1
Paul was not suggesting that Christians should be careless. A certain measure of concerned thoughts is necessary to efficiently perform our daily tasks and accomplish our goals. Christianity never teaches about carelessness, in fact it reinforces the need to work diligently and do one’s part in the kingdom: “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” 1 Thessalonians 3:10-b – NKJ. We cannot help having cares, such as how we will provide for our families, or how to take care of our health and protect our own. However, although we cannot help having cares in life, we are not to allow them to harass us as though we had to bear them ourselves. What Paul actually meant is that we are not to worry or be anxious about the result of our work. We know the tasks that need to be accomplished and we should be concerned to do them well; however we must grasp the concept that the result of our work and diligence are completely in God’s hands.
You’re Still the Same Height, Only Grayer.
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Matthew 6:26-27 – emphasis added.
Why is it a complete waste of time and energy to let our problems consume our thinking?
1) Because God is still sitting on His throne!
“For the kingdom is the LORD’S and He rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:28 (NASB)
Let me tell you – learning to grasp this truth may be the exact reason why we face some valleys. I don’t claim that to be true in every situation, but in my own life, God has repeatedly used circumstances that were seemingly out of control and even hopeless to show me that I had control issues and needed to let Him be God.
I left my parents’ house at 17 to go to college and lived by myself for 13 years until getting married. Although my parents helped as much as they could, their means were limited. From a very early age, I learned to work for things I wanted. I was the mover and shaker of my own life (or so I thought!) Therefore, as a new Christian, letting God take over all areas of my life was an issue. Through the valleys and by taking the steering wheel out of my hands countless times, God has shown me to wait on His timing and fully trust Him. So today, as soon as I recover from the normal first impact of bad news (which include, but are not limited to: crying, being angry, trying to figure out what to do – yes, just in case you wondered – I too have my moments), this is the sentence I repeat out loud, over and over again: “He is still on His Throne.” Meditating upon this truth puts my mind back into the place of restful trust that He has allowed the problem I am facing for a reason. And although I may not “feel it”, I KNOW, it is for my good.
2) Because our anxiety will not prevent any anticipated evil!
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
If you are a child of God, your life’s script has already been written. The Lord knows exactly what He wants you to become and He will allow anything to happen, good and bad, as long as they will help to shape you into the person He has designed you to be. Worrying about what could happen will only distract you from learning the lessons He is sending your way. Your responses should be – “what are you trying to teach me, Father?” and “how should I respond to this, Lord?” Because if you are in the center of God’s will for your life, He is always in the process of teaching you something. Furthermore, worrying about what is going on will not stop any trials from coming your way. It may, however, prevent you from listening to His voice, as you focus on what “you” should do to improve the situation. We can’t change our circumstances, much less when they are God-ordained. However, you can fight them so hard that God will have no alternative but to keep you in the trial for longer, until you learn to rest in Him.
3) Because it is harmful to your health!
“ Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25 NKJ
Hi, my name is Patricia and I have not had a panic attack in fifteen years.
What sounds like a line from an AAA meeting is the true story of my life. I had the first panic attack at 23. For almost four years, doctors tried different medications to help me. I was in the ER five times; each time, firmly believing that I was dying. Panic attacks are terrible. It was one of the hardest, darkest valleys of my life.
The doctors explained to me that I could not control the attacks. According to them, they happened due to a drop of serotonin levels in my brain and therefore they were chemically induced. It is true that I was indeed working long hours, sleeping little and therefore my body was crying out for help. But fifteen years later, I have to confess that there was a deeper underlying issue – self-reliance. When I started losing control of situations in my life, I started worrying. When worry set in, I lost control. Slowly, anxiety and worry started to destroy everything in their path. Was it not for God’s mercy and grace, they would have destroyed me.
Truth being told, men hardly die of hard work, but often due to consequences of an anxious mind. Doctors are prescribing anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications easier than ever these days. Heart attacks are on top of the list as leading cause of death in the modern world. These growing statistics unfortunately include a whole lot of God’s people. However, as children of the Omnipotent God, we really have no excuse to be another number in the long list of people becoming sick due to anxiety. We are children of the Great Physician and the very Creator of the master plan of our lives. He has a Book of remedies and a proven record of effectively healing and leading all who come to Him for guidance. Ask me. I know it.
Exposing our Faith
Relentless worrying should be taken as a warning sign about the true state of our trust and faith in God. For it is when tragedy strikes and our lives are shaken that we really catch a glimpse of how much our hearts follow our minds in our faith journey. Let me explain. It is not difficult to praise God and quote Bible verse after Bible verse when life is good and the skies are blue. It is easy to say “you shouldn’t worry,” to someone when your life is going well. It is when clouds start crawling in the horizon, or when you receive news that change your life and pulls the rug from under your feet; it is then, my friend, if you are honest with yourself, that you have the awesome opportunity to know whether you truly have unshaken faith. For if we worry excessively or for a long time, we must realize that we may not trust God as we may think we do. For if we did – oh, if we only trusted God at His Word, when troubles came our ways, we would mourn and hurt for a while (for that will always be our first natural response for as long as we live in these bodies); however our spirits would quickly tell us to settle down. We would live a life of unshaken faith, waiting on the next chapter of deliverance to come forth. Patiently, expectantly waiting. For if we fully surrender and completely trust, our nights should be as peaceful as a young child’s. If we fully trust, each time our minds wake us up with the worries of things beyond our control, we shall only be awake long to utter a prayer, recognizing our trust in the Father for the outcome of the situation, and of thanks for the things He will surely do. And then we shall fall fast asleep. The peaceful sleep of the just. The rest of those who made God their Rock, their Shadow, their Hiding Place.
In the second part of this devotional, we will study the things that that God teaches us as we learn to take our eyes off circumstances and into the Solid Rock that is never shaken. But for today, I trust this material will give you enough to think and pray about. How do you react to disappointing circumstances? What is your response, after the dust settles down and the first shock of pain subsides? Do you run to God or from Him? Do you let your emotions run your life or do you get a hold of them and invite God’s truth to reign in your mind? Your honest answers to these questions may be the key to a life of peace and unshaken faith.
Dear Father, I praise you for who You are – a Father who is willing to guide and help me live a victorious life, always soaring above my circumstances. I praise You that I can trust that “all things work together for my good” and therefore I can have faith that you are using the valleys to shape me into whom You designed me to be. I pray that you will give me discernment, understanding and wisdom to always realize that the way I react to trials is directly connected to the size of my faith. I pray that You will teach me to look up to You, not at the problems and disappointments that I face. I love You and trust You with my future. In Jesus’ matchless Name I pray, Amen.
1 A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testment, E.W. Bullinger, Kregel Academic, 1999