Everyone has experienced the feeling of anxiety. The Oxford dictionary defines anxiety as experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It ranges in intensity from irritating to troubling to debilitating. The statistics of those suffering with extreme anxiety are staggering as it is projected that this year the pharmaceutical sales of drugs prescribed for anxiety will top $3.8 billion. Yet we are taught in Philippians 4:7 TO BE anxious for nothing. Easier said than done.
When we look at the King James Version of the same verse, it says TO BE careful for nothing. That word careful in the Greek from Strong’s Concordance #3309 is merimnao. Merimnao means to be anxious about or have a distracting care. I can certainly relate to distracting cares. When a problem or a worry plagues my mind at night, compounding thoughts swirl into a never-ending abyss of what-ifs. I end up robbed of precious sleep as one distracting thought leads to another. You see, the enemy loves to intrude our minds with interruptions, diversions, and disturbances intending for them to run rampant. Satan usually only has to throw us off kilter with one aberration. If he can get our minds off of God and what He is capable and willing to do in and through us, we become entrapped in our circumstances while our focus shifts from worship to worry. Joyce Meyer eloquently wrote a best-selling book, The Battlefield of the Mind, which addresses this very issue.
Since we all feel anxiety at various times, what do we do with it? As believers, we are told in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ. Because we don’t have to rely on our own thoughts and will-power, we are empowered to shut the distractions down from the onset by talking directly to God. This is key. The sooner we get our focus right, the sooner we get back on track. Philippians 4:6 goes on further to say, “But in everything by prayer and supplication (asking for something earnestly), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.
Then what does God do? Verse seven goes on to say, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. According to Strong’s Concordance #1515 the Greek word for peace is eirene. Eirene (peace) is implied as prosperity. Prosperity is defined here as quietness and rest. In the middle of the night devoid of sleep, money and wealth which are typically equated with prosperity, do nothing to quiet or rest the mind. True peace that comes from God is not only offered freely, it surpasses any logical understanding. Then He goes a step further and sets up a guard against any further distracting cares the enemy may try to throw at us.
There is a great exchange here, and we are the true beneficiaries. We give God our anxieties, worries, and cares. He in turn gives us His peace. But as I said earlier, easier said than done. Since we are all targets of this attack, we must be diligent TO BE anxious for nothing and choose NOT TO BE duped into following the distractions intended for our demise. It doesn’t say not to feel anxious. It says TO BE anxious for nothing. When we recognize the feelings, it is best to relinquish the anxiety immediately to God and not take it upon ourselves. Talk to Him. Plead with Him. Don’t give up. If anxiety has been a life long pattern or your go to process, it most likely will not dissolve in one try. Keep forging ahead. God wants us TO BE at peace, not anxious. TO BE OR NOT TO BE is the question, and the choice is ours.