To the anxious ones:
There are always a few of those thoughts lurking in the back of my mind, waiting to come out at night. They start as tiny prickling what-if's that tumble around each other, gaining speed and size as they race back and forth. As I watch them churn, they spiral down, creating a vortex of fear that sucks me in. I wonder if I should get up and write them down so I can stop worrying about them, but committing them to paper seems to give them a power I don’t want them to have.
What if something goes wrong? What if there isn’t enough? What if someone gets angry? What if I never fall asleep?
Anxiety is a familiar companion to me. Some of it is hereditary—my grandmother and my son both struggle with it. Some of it comes from trying to do too much with the time I have. Whatever the reason, I am often anxious, and my reaction to this passage is usually guilt.
Have no anxiety at all.
We are not supposed to be anxious . . . and yet, I am.
Just pray about it, and God will give you peace.
To someone struggling with anxiety, this almost sounds dismissive. Just pray. If you’re still anxious, well, maybe you haven’t prayed enough (and now you have something else about which to feel anxious!).
The second part of the passage, though, changes everything.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things...
Then the God of peace will be with you.”
This is a prescription for peace—not just peace of mind, but true, abiding peace that comes from the God of peace, the Only One who can provide it. We fool ourselves by thinking that if we can just fix our worries, we will feel peace. Our worries are not the problem. Our hearts are the problem . . . our small, scared hearts that are afraid to fully trust that God can and does strengthen and sustain us and provide for all our needs.
Try this: the next time an anxious thought creeps in, replace it with something true, or just, or lovely, or worthy of praise. Make a list of things you see and hear and experience that are honorable and excellent and gracious. Think about these things. Write them down. Meditate on them at night when anxious thoughts threaten to rob you of sleep. Make a commitment to banish anxious thoughts by refusing to allow them their power.
Then the God of peace will be with you . . . just as He always has been, yesterday, today, and forever.
Abbey Dupuy is a freelance writer and homeschooling mama to two-year-old twins, a first grader and a new baby. You can find out more about her here.