When I was 20 years old I was putting myself through college, was working two jobs, and was volunteering for a high school ministry. I was pushing myself physically, didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life, and found that strange anxious thoughts were creeping into my mind. At night I laid in bed and my mind raced over all of my difficulties and the fear of not knowing what would happen in the future.
I knew that my anxious thoughts were coming from my flesh, and not from the Spirit inside of me, so I took out my Bible and, over the next week, memorized this verse:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
As I was memorizing the verse, I thought about what it was saying and tried to let the reassurance of the verse sink into my mind. But, frankly, it didn’t work. I was still anxious, despite having added this new verse to my repertoire.
As days went by, though, and I quoted the verse to myself, often several times each day, the content of the verse began to take on a power that supplanted the anxiety of my flesh with a feeling of confidence in my Spirit. Memorizing that verse, and utilizing it as a weapon against fear, was one of the wisest moves that I took in my spiritual journey through life.
For the past month I have been practicing medicine as a tele-health doc. I field phone calls and do video chats seeing patients with a variety of problems. In these days, as you can imagine, many of the people seeking medicine attention have a chief complaint of, “Covid-19 concerns.” They are anxious, some in tears, over the fears surrounding the current pandemic. They are afraid of getting sick, are afraid of infecting others, and are afraid of dying.
The point is that, for human people, anxiety is normal. The world around us reveals stimuli that are sometimes pleasant and sometimes troublesome. When our defenses are down a bit, or when the number of troublesome stimuli stack up, our minds get anxious thoughts and our bodies feel that anxiety.
BUT, children of God have access to a power that can override the emotions and thoughts of our bodies. If you haven’t done it yet, memorize the verse above and follow its formula.
- Do not be anxious
- In prayer, express your thanks to God for his salvation and for the life in Christ that he gives you.
- Tell God what you need, in petition.
- Expect and wait for the comfort, that can only come from God, to act like a garrison of soldiers around your heart and mind.
One other word of encouragement on this subject. When you use this formula, and it works for you, use it as a form of testimony to tell others who are struggling with anxiety so that they can also know of the comfort, peace, and hope that only comes by being a child of God. It breaks my heart to see a world of people that are so hurting when the answer is so close to them.