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
Do not be anxious. Can it really be that simple?
Sometimes anxiety can be remedy with a positive attitude and a fresh outlook on life. Most of the time, though, true anxiety will not be resolved by positive thinking and logical arguments. But there is a choice to be made when it comes to anxiety.
Let’s take a look at the FASTER Scale* again.
F – Forgetting Priorities. Start believing the present circumstances and move away from trusting God.
A – Anxiety. A growing background noise of undefined fear.
S – Speeding Up. Trying to outrun the anxiety, which is usually the first sign of depression.
T – Ticked Off. Getting adrenaline high on anger and aggression.
E – Exhausted. Loss of physical and emotional energy; coming off the adrenaline high and the onset of depression.
R – Relapse. Returning to the place you swore you would never go again.
Last week’s post discussed the first step: Forgetting Priorities. This is the point when we allow ourselves to become distracted by the humdrum elements of life, pushing God into the peripheral and out of focus. We become more attached and reliant upon material things, but these are insufficient and inevitably fail us.
As the materialistic life cracks and we are left unsupported, we enter the next step in the relapse cycle: Anxiety.
The Eight Pillars to Freedom by Diane Roberts characterizes anxiety as “the growing background noise of undefined fear and probably unresolved trauma.” Without God as the focal point, we grasp desperately for other sources of assurance and security. “Anxiety,” Diane writes, “actually releases adrenaline and other chemicals in our bodies to speed up and dull the pain. We literally get a ‘high’ off being anxious.” This “high” is not healthy as it degrades our minds, bodies, and spirits over time.
So what do we do?
Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything, but I can tell you this is much easier said than done. In fact, I have been discouraged by this verse in the past. Does it mean I should be able to stop being anxious if I just will it hard enough? Have I not believed in God faithfully enough?
After some reflection, study, and prayer, I came to realize that the passage is not implying there is a mental switch I can pray into existence that will turn off my anxiety. Rather if we are commanded not to be anxious, we must properly equip ourselves to combat and remedy anxiety. We can either run faster and talk louder over “the growing background noise or fear” or reinstate the rhythms and habits that call God back into focus.
Living without anxiety as Philippians 4:6 commands requires obedience, discipline, courage, and humility. Only by trusting God and making time for Him, will we experience “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.”
Contributor: Jordan N.
*FASTER Scale developed by Michael Dye from Genesis Process