**Well friends, I could be stirring up a hornet’s nest here, but I’m going to trust that as I ask the questions below, you know I’m asking to truly find understanding in an area I don’t understand.**
I’m studying Philippians deeply right now. I’m writing an 8-week bible study on this book and preparing to teach 4 sessions at a retreat in May, using this as our anchor verse for the weekend:
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)
As I’ve prepared to teach this verse, reading it over and over, I keep thinking of the few words before and the few words after.
The Lord is near . . . (Phil. 4:5b)
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. (Phil. 4:6-7)
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phil. 8)
According to these verses, I can’t help but see the verse before “do not be anxious” reminds us of God’s nearness, His presence, Immanuel. The verse after “do not be anxious” gives us an alternative way to think.
Think on these things:
Whatever is excellent, worthy of praise
When I think of the verses before and after, I wonder how much of our battle with anxiety is fought through remembering God is near and fought through our thought life?
Now, I must confess . . . I don’t struggle with anxiety. There have been seasons in which I was anxious, but those are usually related to high stress, projects due, busyness, etc. But on the regular, I’m not a super anxious person. I don’t say that with pride, I say that so you know I don’t have a lot of experience or personal understanding here. I’ve watched friends I love struggle with anxiety, crippling fear, worry, stress and know it’s incredibly difficult to navigate and that’s why I’m asking for help. I don’t understand, I don’t have the answers, I’m seeking them out.
I’ve heard people/thinkers/pastors/teachers/counselors friends say:
Anxiety comes not from thinking too much, but thinking too little. Anxiety comes from thinking too little about God. Anxiety is rooted in letting circumstances and fear rule our thoughts, over knowing the truth about God and His promises.
Anxiety is misplaced trust.
Spiritual stability is found in how you think.
Anxiety is unfulfilled responsibility.
The way you handle trials, temptations, and difficulties is a reflection of your view of God. If you understand all of his power and all of his promises, all of his purposes and all of his plans for you, and you know that he is near, what are you going to be anxious about?
Anxiety is physiological. Just as you would take and antihistamine for allergies, you would take an anti-anxiety pill for anxiety.
Now some of these are blunt, one-sided, I know. I’m wondering . . .
1. Do you agree/disagree with the statements above? Why or why not?
2. How much of our thought life controls our anxiety?
3. If you struggle with anxiety, what has helped you in the midst of it?
4. What causes anxiety? Is it only physiological or is there some aspect of thinking or mistrust?
5. Are anxiety, stress, worry, and fear similar? Different? Related?
I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. I’m not a therapist, doctor, theologian, etc. But, I want to open a conversation in which we can be kind and seek a healthy dialogue without assuming or implying anything. I also know Jesus talks about worry, anxiety, and fear quite a bit, along with the rest of the Bible. I would love to hear your responses to the quotes above and answers to my questions.
Rules of engagement:
- Be kind
- Engage respectfully
- Seek to understand responses
- Offer clarity
Leave a comment below.