Yesterday, we we looked at Philippians 4:6-7 and what it had to say about anxiety. In this passage, Paul writes:
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.
Clinging to anxiety is a bit like hiding out of doors in the cold. God offers us shelter—peace available in Christ Jesus. But you and I would rather huddle in the bitter windy wasteland, shivering and miserable. Why? Well, we’d rather be miserable than lose control. The way we’ve been running our lives (with anxiety) doesn’t work—but at least we’re running the show. As a nice gesture, we even let God act as a figurehead king. Of course, we’re the ones who are really in charge. We don’t need to bring our troubles before God; we can handle them just fine by ourselves.
However, the Holy Spirit through Paul is showing us a new way of living. There’s a path to come in from the cold. This path consists of letting our requests be made known. In a word, that means exposure. Ironically, we try to protect ourselves from the cold by hunkering down, by protecting ourselves from exposure as much as possible. Show no weakness, show no vulnerability, and you won’t get hurt. Yet the paradox that God places before us is that the only way to survive the winter is by exposure. That’s our pathway, and Paul writes that it is marked by four waypoints:
- “In everything.” Maybe we bring some of our troubles before God. But there are some things that we hold back. Well, God wants to hear all of them. Bring every request before him. Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
- “By prayer and supplication.” Don’t let this be a dry laundry list. Bring these before God as impassioned pleas. God wants us to come earnestly, expressing our desperation, throwing ourselves on his mercy and goodness.
- “With thanksgiving.” Here’s one I struggle with a lot. Thanksgiving is key to trusting God. Thanksgiving points us back to times when God was good to us. Because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we know that he will always be good to us. He will take care of all our needs.
- “To God.” This is where humility comes into play. When we leave the wasteland and come into a place of warmth and safety, we are surrendering to God’s kingdom and God’s agenda. In presenting our requests to God, we are taking the step of admitting that we can’t handle life and we need his help. Of course, this is what makes it so difficult.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what it means to reach this place of peace and safety. I’m convinced that we have have sold ourselves short when it comes to understanding the incredible peace that God has to offer.