“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Around October of this year I began to struggle with severe anxiety. I knew God was calling Paul and I to take a big risk and I was really freaking out about it. I wouldn’t describe it as a crisis of faith. I know by now that Christ always delivers. I just wasn’t too sure I was on board with His game plan.
This verse was my anthem. I remember in college journaling about stress. I had decided in those young years that stress was a symptom of not trusting God and I wanted no part of it. I think most who know me would agree I live a pretty stress free lifestyle. I just don’t buy into it.
So the anxiety I experienced in the fall was a real shock to my system. Almost a necessary reset. A spiritual alarm. God knew it would get my attention. “Be anxious about nothing” rang over and over again in my ears.
“I’m trying!” I would shout to myself like a loon. I really was trying not to be anxious. But try as I might, it just wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t “will” myself to peace, I had to surrender to it.
You see there’s a catch to that verse. It doesn’t just say “be anxious about nothing”. It says “Be anxious about nothing but by prayer…” Ah, there it is. There’s the catch. Prayer.
And let me be real with you, when you’re anxious, it’s kind of a round the clock thing. It might come in waves, but those waves tend to be fairly consistent. A constant crash of feelings and questions. So if you’re truly honest with yourself, anxiety should lead to A LOT of time in prayer. It’s your life vest, your key to keep from drowning in the sea of what if’s and why’s.
And peace WILL come. It will transcend all understanding, but it will be there. A surreal oasis in the storm of life.
It has for me. It occasionally creeps back in. But I can truly say that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, is guarding my heart and mind. It’s miraculous and it feels great.
It took months. That’s a long time for this carefree individual. It might take longer for you. I really can’t say, I don’t think it’s a quick fix. It’s more like an enduring healing. A healing from my will and my way. I’m learning to surrender and like any lesson it takes time.
And like the great instructor He is, His patience leads me gently to great peace. May the alarm bell of anxiety not drown your soul, but cause it to persevere to new heights of prayer and thanksgiving.