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August 6, 2008

A remedy for those times when we are feeling anxious

by Dave Malnes

Is your life right now characterized as being anxious?

I have many positive and fond memories of being a graduate student. My wife and I lived in a small apartment in student housing. I recall enjoying my classes and the professors, teaching tennis and golf, playing golf often with my wife, and enjoying the nice weather of Albuquerque.

During this time, I kept a daily journal. Several years later after graduation, I happened to run across my journal and was expecting to see many entries about my enjoyment of life as a graduate student. Much to my surprise, the vast majority of my entries were anything but peace, rejoicing and contentment.

They were, “O Lord, hear my prayer (regarding my future).” “PleaseLord, help me, I am lost.” I couldn’t believe it! It was both embarrassing and humbling. Where was my faith and trust in the Lord? It revealed to me that I was allowing circumstances, anxiety and worry to dominate my present.

Now, as I look back, I can clearly see how the Lord took good care of us, guided us, and blessed us more than we could ever imagine. Not that life was easy, but I have the advantage of looking back and seeing the evidence of how much the Lord is in control.

The Apostle Paul reflected and encouraged the church in Philippi to not be anxious by writing,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”(Phil. 4:6)

Why does Paul encourage us not to be anxious? Worry is a sin because it displays a lack of trust in God. This is especially true over things we have no control over. With a child-like trust, we can turn over our concerns into our Lord’s hands. We can place our little hand into his and trust that our Father will provide.

Yes, it is good to make plans. Ultimately, however, the outcome of our plans is in the Lord’s hands. As a result, Paul tells us to stop worrying about the affairs of the world, but utilize the power of prayer as a means to overcome anxiety and worry.

Prayer is a means to give us confidence and peace that God is working out all things for good, even when he says no to my prayer. Faith and trust becomes the critical element of being sure in what we hope and pray for and certain of what we do not see. With a spirit of gentleness and rejoicing, we can truly pray with thanksgiving as we bring our requests to God. As a result of prayer, we can find peace.

Paul continues to write,

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil. 4:7)

Peace can be so elusive. It is the opposite of anxiety. It is a type of inner peace that knows that our sins are forgiven. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John 14:27)

Paul also wrote, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Romans 5:1)This is a peace that gives us a true rest as a result of trusting fully that God is taking care of us.

So often, people will look to the world to bring them peace. If only I were rich. If only I were famous. If only I held this job. If only I were a somebody, then I would have peace.

Our world cannot offer the peace that can truly satisfy a man’s soul. This peace can only come from God. He is the originator of peace which can only be received by grace. It is God’s peace, which goes beyond our human understanding that will guard, like a soldier, our hearts and minds.

As Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, we may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. To know this love surpasses knowledge itself for it cannot be completely known (Ephesians 3:17-19). It is a love Christ has for us that goes beyond our understanding.

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