Be anxious for nothing, but in everything—by prayer and by asking for help, with thanksgiving—let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which is surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Messiah יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua. (Philippians 4:6-7, mjlt)
In today’s uneasy and tumultuous world, there are plenty of things to worry about. Unfortunately, for many believers in Messiah—far too many of us—we find ourselves struggling with worry and anxiety right along with everybody else. This, of course, is not unexpected, as evidenced by the numerous sayings of the Master Yeshua Himself instructing us to not be anxious for tomorrow (Mt. 6:34), or for our life (Mt. 6:25, Lk. 12:22, 21:34), or even for the anxiety of the day and age in which we live (Mt. 13:22, Mk. 4:19, Lk. 8:14). But sadly, the admonition to “be anxious for nothing,” as Paul puts it, goes widely unheeded among the faithful. Instead, anxiety and worry choke us and weigh us down, and—in addition to being absolutely destructive to our physical and mental health—they keep us from being fully effective and useful in the service of our Master. So while worry and anxiety may come naturally, they must be refused—and not allowed to build up and overwhelm us, or to hold sway over our hearts and minds.
The journey toward releasing the burden of worry begins with the shocking realization that to be anxious is actually to disobey God; perhaps, even, to sin. “Be anxious for nothing” is not a suggestion or merely a word of encouragement or comfort, but a command—which makes worrying a choice. Though at any given moment it may not seem as if we are choosing anxiousness and worry (and for some of us there may even be a physical component that makes it harder to fight them), we have nevertheless made that choice by default—we have demonstrated that our initial reaction to worrisome things is not to turn to God and exhibit trust, but to attempt (and to fail) to control that which is out of our hands.
The remedy, then, for struggling to “be anxious for nothing,” is “in everything—by prayer and by asking for help, with thanksgiving—[to] let your requests be made known to God.” For believers who are worried or anxious, it can be difficult to push through the chaos of the mind and reach out to God, even when we eventually manage to do it. The problem, however, is that our “requests” tend to be made in the form of fear-filled suggestions in an attempt to steer God toward our desired results. Yes, in everything we let our requests be made known to God, but we overlook the most crucial parenthetical: “by prayer and by asking for help, with thanksgiving” (emphasis added). Our prayers, asks, and requests should not be targeted toward where we want God to land, but encased in thanksgiving for His love, faithfulness and care.
Giving sincere, unmanipulative thanks to God is the delivery mechanism by which our requests are received, processed, and fulfilled; and only by such means will “the peace of God” be returned to us in place of our anxiety. This peace “is surpassing all understanding,” because, in our rational mind, nothing and no one can deliver us from the source of our worry. But through our thanks, we acknowledge who God is—His authority and power—and we relinquish control over our situation. We are set free, then, to receive His peace—a peace that is welcome, yet beyond the comprehension of our natural mind.
This mysterious, wondrous peace of God, which comes by way of thanksgiving, will not cause our awareness of our problems to subside or disappear, but it “will guard [our] hearts and [our] thoughts in Messiah יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua.” For as long as we hold that peace, it will actively shut out all anxiety, worry and fear, and they will be unable to again gain entrance without our permission.
Whatever your anxiety or worry—be it for tomorrow, or for your life, or for the day and age in which we live—obey God, and be anxious for nothing. The control belongs to Him, but the choice is all yours. Choose God today, and gain His peace—in everything, give Him thanks.
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