Talk about a tension!
So, I see the news from Ukraine – the horrible atrocities, the genocide, the evil, the senseless killing of ordinary civilians who are just trying to live their lives…and then I read in Philippians;
“DO NOT BE ANXIOUS about anything….” (4:6).
The word “anxious” means to be anxious about, or to care about. I see the news and wonder; how are we not supposed to be anxious? Shouldn’t we be anxious? Shouldn’t we care? How can we care, but not be anxious? What’s the difference between legitimate caring and illegitimate anxiety? The answer, of course, is in the text. It continues…
“… but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving LET YOUR REQUESTS be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Both “Do not be anxious” and “Let your requests be made known to God” are imperatives – which means they are commands.
Prayer is something we are supposed to do. And prayer is connected to not being anxious!
Question: Why was David, who was betrayed by his closest friend and ally, not crushed with anxiety?
Answer: Because he prayed:
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved (Ps. 55:22).
What happens after we’ve prayed and cast our burdens – our anxiety on the LORD? Paul continues in Philippians 4:7 says that “the peace of God…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Note: we are not commanded to “experience peace.”
Providing Peace is something that God does.
Peace comes after we unload our anxiety on God. This peace is not peace from God, it’s the peace that comes from the presence of God.
As David says in Psalm 16:11;
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Question: Why was David, who was young, and frequently alone in the wildness, not anxious about being young and alone in the wilderness?
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me (Ps. 23:4)
Answer: Because God was with him. He found that the presence of God, although it did not remove the threats or dangers, provided him with comfort and peace.
David experienced the peace of God’s presence in the middle of anxiety, fear, attacks and confusion.
So can we.
There’s a difference between “being” in a state of anxiety – of panic, confusion, fear, insecurity and after praying, experiencing “the peace of God” while we are still in the middle of the panic, confusion, fear and insecurity. The difference between illegitimate anxiety and legitimate caring lies in which one is controlling us.
Anxiety will always be on the ride; our challenge is to not let it drive us.
I trust you are praying for the people of Ukraine. As hard as it may seem to believe, based on God’s word and God’s character, it is possible for them to experience the peace of God’s presence in the middle of evil. And, that’s possible for us as well!
Are you “letting your requests be made known to God”?
Could it be that prayer and experiencing the peaceful presence of God is the missing link in your pursuit of peace amidst your anxiety?