One of the most famous verses in all of scripture regarding peace and worry is Philippians 4:6. We hear it again and again. Be anxious for nothing. Be anxious for nothing. Be anxious for nothing.
I want to pause for a moment and encourage you. This isn’t going to be an article on how to muster up the willpower to defeat anxiety. This isn’t going to be a verse pulled out of context and preached at you.
“Be anxious for nothing,” This isn’t helpful. It’s not enough. We have to see more.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”
Ah. So the method here is prayer and petition. Prayer, which is as simple as talking to God. And supplication. One of the definitions of supplication is ‘to seek or pursue,’.
So talk to God and seek him with thanksgiving.
With a firm grip on his faithfulness and his goodness and his presence and his provision in life up until this very moment, let your need be made known to God.
The word here for ‘making it known’ is the Greek word gnōrizō, which means ‘to know intimately’. In fact, it comes from the Greek root word for sexual intimacy. The idea here is this- making your need known at the most intimate level. Let him become so well acquainted with your need that it is vulnerable to him, exposed to him, laid bare to him. Get the need as near as possible, as voiced as possible, as seen as possible.
This only happens if we step into his space. If we draw near.
This is not a casual passing prayer. This is not throwing a word in with the big guy. This is intimate. It requires relationship and nearness and exposure.
And because of the work Christ did on the cross, that kind of intimate access is available to us.
Jesus says, ‘come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest!’
Jesus says, ‘enter my throne room of grace with confidence my child! The way has been paved!’
And in that intimate space we get to meet the Prince of Peace.
In chapter 4 he says this peace that transcends understanding will guard your heart (what you feel) and your mind (what you think).
Oh. You mean, the two parts of us that engage in this thing called worry? Yes. He’s going to protect and care for those parts of us when we get near and share with him our fears.
Continuing in chapter 4, you’re going to notice that he says to focus on a list of things. Good things. But, when you pause long enough, you will learn that the list is all talking about one thing. Him.
Dwell on Christ. Eyes on Christ. The power of the cross paves a way for us to draw near and we do that by sharing, but we also do that by keeping our gaze on him.
What good does this do?
Carry on, and we find Paul begins to talk about the secret to contentment – which is the opposite of worry. Now this may not come as a shock, but it’s worth noting: Paul says that the key to contentment is you must draw near to the Prince of Peace.
Paul says, do you know why I can be content in the face of beatings and death threats and abandonment? I’ll tell you. Christ. In. Me. I can do all things because Christ is in me! Everything is going to be okay because I know who is in charge. He is with me. He is near to me. He knows me. He knows my circumstances. I can lose it all and I can still experience life abundant because he is the living water, he is my comfort, he is my fulfillment, he is EVERY SINGLE THING I NEED.
When the storms and the questions and the concerns knock at your door, you get to stand and say that it’s all going to be okay because you are not alone in this and you are seen.
This isn’t a mantra you can beat into your head. It’s a deep conviction that comes when you seek the Lord gratefully to share your worries as your eyes stay locked on him.
- Look at your life and note the goodness, let gratitude well up.
- Now, with gratitude in your heart and on your tongue, it’s time to get real. Dump your fears and feelings and stresses at the feet of Jesus. Be frank and honest. Don’t hold back.
- Focus on his nearness and on his goodness as you lean on the Prince of Peace. Recognize that he is in you.
- Repeat until the peace begins to lift your eyes above the storm. Peace won’t be born out of denial, but out of a deep and authentic comprehension of who is in charge. (Spoiler, it’s the Prince of Peace and he loves you dearly).