God’s Prescription for Worry and Anxiety.
An old hymn goes, “Where can I find solace, when other sources cease to make me whole?” In today’s stressful world, when we all have worries, anxiety, and stress in some form, people are trying different ways to relieve their mental troubles, and some work to some extent. Most of the time, our solutions are distractions, denials, or stopgaps. Few work at a visceral level, less at a spiritual level.
We worry about money, our health, our old age, our loved ones and families, our jobs and business, what people think about us, and more. God’s Holy Spirit prompted Paul to send His prescription – His solution in Paul’s letter to the Philippians while he, Paul was in a Roman jail. Paul was well qualified to speak to the problem of worry; when the Romans got their claws into you, they seldom let go without drawing blood, and Paul fully expected to be condemned to death and then executed; his trial was coming up soon.
The Roman war of the Second Triumvirate had just taken place with over 200 soldiers involved – the Battle of Philippi. On one side was the Liberators, led by Ceasar’s assassins, Brutus and Gaius, and on the other side, Mark Anthony and Octavius. When Brutus’ side lost, he committed suicide, and Mark Anthony, remembering that Brutus has insisted on Mark Anthony’s protection after Brutus had murdered Ceasar, had the body of Brutus covered in a purple robe.
Now the Romans decided to colonize Philippi, so they sent their young veterans into Philippi to live among the Philippians, and the older veterans went back to Rome. The Philippians themselves suffered from disunity, the problem that Paul was addressing. The Philippians were troubled by danger on the inside – their own disunity, and on the outside, the enemies of Christianity, the Romans.
This is exactly what Christians in Western countries are suffering today. There is disunity among the Christian churches and denominations, which prevents the church from effectively resisting our enemies, which are increasing daily: government-sponsored perversion and immorality and the mass importation of Muslim “refugees,” the sworn enemies of Christianity.
Paul wrote two simple, yet profound verses that we find in Philippians chapter 4, verses 6 and 7. Let’s examine the deeper meaning of some of the words from their original Greek to understand the impact of this prescription from God for handling worry, anxiety, and stress:
First, as it stands in the King James Version of the Bible: “Be careful (anxious) for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard) your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Now let’s examine some of the Greek words he used for greater understanding.
Be careful for nothing: “Careful” here refers to being “troubled with cares, approaching dread.” We dread the stories we are telling ourselves about the future.
But in everything this word everything means “in every case – no exception.” God, our heavenly Father, is indeed interested in every single worry we suffer, no matter how small, like a perfect earthly parent would be. He loves us as if we were the only person on earth. In Psalm 40:17, we read. “The Lord thinketh on me.” No trouble is too small or trivial for God to care about. Bring Him every problem. How?
By prayer and supplication: supplication in the Grek means “a petition for the supply of our wants.” And why pray, if God is omniscient, omnipresent, knows the future as well as the past? When we pray, we establish His sovereignty in our lives by acknowledging His control, handing the situation over to Him – without relinquishing our own responsibility. Prayer is silent submission, quiet trust. We are coming into the very presence of Almighty God, the throne room of the ruler of the universe, one-on-one with God. What a privilege!
and with thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is not spontaneous when we are beset by worry, hence this command; it moves us back into a rational, logical state of mind. We remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and reliability in the past and His sufficiency in the future. We think of all our answered prayers. We establish our weakness – His strength is made perfect in our weakness – and His authority in our lives. We obtain an eternal perspective: I don’t understand, but I know that all things work together for good for those that love God. Gratitude relaxes us, reminds us of our dependence on Him: Not my will, but Thy will be done.
Make your requests known unto God: make known in the Greek means “face to face, intimate conversation” We have His full, undivided attention when we pray. His mercy is unearned, unending, and unlimited.
And here is the result, the consequence on our obedience in following this advice from God, remembering that He will not give us any commandment or advice without also giving us the ability to carry it out:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding: this is the ultimate, the real solution, not the solutions we try through the “other sources” mentioned in the Hymn above, the short-term, band-aid solutions we try too often.
Shall keep your hearts and minds: Keep means “guard” in the Koine Greek. God is guarding our minds from the attacks of the devil: guilt, often brought on by legalism and Galatians; I haven’t done enough to earn – I haven’t done enough so I’m being punished – that is the tragic result of salvation by works, the implication that the Atonement on its own is insufficient. The devil attacks us with destructive thoughts, projections, and worries to weaken us, the tares in the wheat; this prescription, this solution, guards our minds/thoughts. Hearts in the Greek means the “whole body” – we know we suffer physically from stress – and minds in the Greek means our “thoughts.”
In Christ Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This is God’s official stamp of approval on the viability and validity of this infallible solution for our anxiety, available to all of us.