It’s the season for gathering, celebrating, creating memories and remembering the goodness of the Lord. It sounds amazing! Decorations are up, music is playing and stores, vying for our money, are touting deals galore. It’s great! Or is it?
Person after person with whom I interact is dealing with anxiety at some level. I can get caught on the anxiety treadmill myself. We depend on our anxiety to fuel us: to keep us motivated. We internalize the burden of bringing about the right conditions in our lives through anxiety by managing conditions, managing relationships, and wielding power to maintain a certain image. During the holiday season, this can be exacerbated. Add to that the pressures of family and ministry and it can be a heaping helping of guilt and discouragement.
Philippians 4:6-7 admonishes us:
“… Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Unfortunately, I tend to live my life the opposite of these verses above and it manifests something like this:
“Have anxiety about everything, do not pray about it. By all means don’t be thankful, just keep mulling it over in your own mind. And chaos and anxiety will mark your days and your heart and mind will never be at rest.”
OUCH! I don’t want that to be reflective of me or of my life!
I like to think of Philippians 4:6-7 in this way:
- God in His Word, gives us a command – “Do not be anxious about anything.”
- He tells us how to obey it -“but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.”
- He shares with us the blessing of following the command – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
He further instructs us about what exactly to set our minds on in order to make this happen in verse eight:
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If I set my mind on the things mentioned in verse eight, the negative thought processes disappear and I get out of the downward spiral of anxiety.
Perhaps breathing prayers of confession to the Lord will be beneficial when I start to become anxious and to realize that God is in control. Repenting in words is helpful, but having an action that accompanies my repentance is even better. For example, “Lord, I confess I am anxious! Help me to think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise instead of allowing my mind to cause anxiety which affects my interactions with others.”
As you seek to share the love of Christ in your home and on campus, facilitate gatherings, travel or whatever you have on your plate, I pray that anxiety won’t be the side dish that accompanies your celebrations.