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. —Philippians 4:6-7
So many of us struggle with anxiety. We know the old cliché “God is in control,” but we don’t really live it out. Worry constantly seeps into our hearts and minds, causing us to feel so overpowered that we don’t trust God.
In times of stress, I used to find myself repeating Philippians 4:6-7 in my head … and I have to admit, it never really made me less anxious. I just wanted the verses to automatically make me feel better, instead of taking the time to understand their meaning and do what they said.
God cares about our concerns. He didn’t just give us nice sounding verses to say to ourselves when worried. He gave us loving and powerful counsel on how to fight anxiety through Him.
Verse 6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
In this verse, God is commanding us not to be anxious. He is not suggesting a way to live a happier and more stress-free life (although it sometimes leads to that), but rather giving us directives on how to live a more holy and pleasing life for Him.
This may seem overwhelming and impossible at first glance, but God graciously gives us a way to do this: He tells us to talk to him about our concerns in prayer, handing over all our worries to Him so that no anxiety remains in us.
Verse 7 – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God wants to make a trade with us: In exchange for our anxiety, He will give us the peace of God. He promises to literally replace our worry with His peace after we share our concerns with Him, and like a security guard protecting a house from intruders, His peace will shield anxiety from breaking back into our hearts and our minds.
In the midst of stressful situations, it’s easy to find ourselves wondering if it’s realistically possible for us to experience peace when we are so concerned about something. From the parents whose children are fighting cancer, to my friends who have been trying for months and aren’t pregnant yet, life is just so hard sometimes.
Having peace during difficulties is not natural in our human understanding. It goes beyond what we – in our fallen and fleshly state – consider conceivable.
Possessing a peace that comes from God doesn’t mean we won’t have desires for certain outcomes, but that we will supernaturally experience the Lord’s peace rather than anxiety during those tough moments.
Verse 5b – “The Lord is near.”
When reading this passage, I used to rush to verse six when Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing” and ignore everything before. However, this sentence that directly proceeds verse six contains such riches. It teaches us that God’s presence brings comfort and peace as we struggle with anxiety.
Being fully aware of God’s nearness helps us to talk to Him about our cares; it helps us to trust Him; it helps us to follow Him; it helps us to put our problems in right perspective; and it helps us to have His sweet and joyous peace.
There is nowhere we can go to be apart from His presence. Even when we think things seem dark in our lives, His hand is laid upon us and is leading us. Our darkness is not dark to Him (Psalms 139:1-12), as He is Light in all things.
Take comfort in the reality that the God who made the whole entire world is with you and loves you deeply. Ask Him to help you to obey His command not to be anxious. Tell Him all your cares and concerns, knowing they are on His plate now and not yours. Do this whenever a concern pops into your head.
Our Lord will respond to your pleas, with His wonderful peace overwhelming your heart and mind.
Further reading: Joshua 1, Psalms 139:1-12, Matthew 6:25-34