March 3, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6–7 (NKJV)
There are times in life when we feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us, and we wonder how we’re going to make it. And these words from Paul to the Philippian congregation, written while Paul himself was imprisoned, have helped many throughout the years remember where their help comes from at all times—especially in times of uncertainty.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anxiety medically as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”
Did you see some key words there? Fear, doubt, threat, self-doubt, cope, etc. Anxiety seems to be brought on mostly by fear of the unknown(s). And unless you are the Lord Most High, there have been, are, and will be “unknowns” in your life. However, this is where our faith in He who created the world is to set us apart from the world.
In today’s passage, Paul tells us what we’re to be anxious about: nothing. But Paul, a mere human like us, knows that this is not always possible in our flesh. And if we look around today, we can see this is especially true in societies like ours where we’ve become more isolated, less community-oriented, we don’t like to inconvenience others, we want things to be solved instantly, and we like to have all sorts of safety nets and backups or “just in case” items, etc. But here we’re given a very unique, set apart, and faith-filled way of handling our anxiety: give our requests to God and bring them to Him by means of prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving or gratitude changes us from the inside out. Not only is it spiritually powerful, as it reminds us of God’s care and faithfulness, it’s also physically powerful. Neuroscience proves it rewires our brain, which in turn helps our thoughts, attitudes, and responses. Paul knew thankfulness was key in living surrendered to the Lord, as he would mention it in combination with prayer in several of his letters (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 1:3; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18; 1 Timothy 2:1).
In these turbulent times of division, pestilences, wars, rumors of wars, and all the many other “unknowns” and “what ifs” of this world, we’re reminded we’re not in control. But we can know the One who is—and He wants us to cast all our anxieties on Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)!
Pause: What “unknown” brings you anxious thoughts when it comes to mind?
Practice: Give yourself 15 minutes to list the things you’re grateful for. Write them down so you can see them in front of you in a tangible way. Then say a prayer specifically for that “unknown,” and then give God a praise of thanksgiving for the things you’ve listed and whatever else may come to mind.
Pray: Father, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, I come to you and surrender control. Please help me when I want to take control of things, and may Your Spirit remind me that You care for me and that Your way is best. Help me stay in that narrow way that leads to life. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Amen.
Mirely Maldonado has been part of the Calvary Chapel family since 2013 and now serves as staff in the Events Department. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film & Digital Video Production and has taught the Bible at Bible Study Fellowship for six years. She treasures good conversation, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and loves reading.