Published April 2020
BE anxious for nothing. This is one of the strangest commandments in the Bible.
First of all, there is an awful lot to be anxious about – coronavirus for a start; climate change, child abuse, domestic violence, North Korea, species extinction, incoming asteroids, financial disaster, difficult relationships, online bullying, weight gain … You name it and we can worry about it!
Secondly, the Bible states this as if anxiety is something we can control! The full quote says, “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.
So, the Apostle Paul is saying, don’t fret, instead pray and ask for God’s help, remembering to focus on the good in your life and being thankful for it, and you’ll have peace.
Sounds easy but it’s not. However, if we believe in God, we don’t have to be overwhelmed by issues. When we are faced with situations that induce fear and anxiety we have a choice: we can either focus on the problem and watch it become bigger and more overwhelming in our imaginations (especially at three am!), or focus on God and how great, all-powerful and deeply involved He is in our world. In that case our problems tend to shrink to a manageable size and our trust in God grows bigger and bigger.
What I teach my girls is: You are not a victim, you have a choice. Even if you don’t have a choice regarding your circumstance (like illness), you have a choice about your attitude towards it and how you respond to it.
You have a choice as to whether you let that circumstance make you miserable and bitter, or stronger and kinder. You have a choice whether to forgive a wrong or take an offence. You have a choice whether you let that circumstance push you into addiction, self-harm and suicide, or whether you let it push you into the arms of Jesus.
The people featured [in this paper] have made a choice to respond to their difficult circumstances with humour, selflessness and courage.
As we face an uncertain tomorrow, may the God of all grace help us to do the same.