Short Meds in ‘Living the Life’: 30. Impossible Peace (2)
Phil 4:6 “Have no anxiety about anything….”
If there is one thing in this past year of the 2020-21 Pandemic that has divided believer from unbeliever, it is anxiety. If there is one thing that should challenge us about the lives we live, it is anxiety. One well-known Christian leader wrote, “Anxiety comes from unbelief.” We can seek lots of different things to help us through the days of Covid-19 but building up our faith, strengthening our belief, is the most important. I don’t have space to spell out why beyond saying as I look around and listen, I see it is the people either without faith or with only weak faith who are the worriers. Paul’s verse continued by speaking about prayer, an expression of a meaningful relationship with the living God. May that be us.
But there is something else we need to realise that stop what I have been saying from appearing legalistically hard. We would not need words of challenge and encouragement that we find in the Bible if we never had anxiety. We all suffer it from time to time, we all waver in our faith from time to time and have to re-establish our belief in Him and His ability to see us through. It may be momentarily or, when we are spiritually and physically exhausted, it may take time to recover and encounter the Lord as in Elijahs case, but the principle still stands, anxiety is an expression of (temporary) unbelief we have fight to overcome. I would also suggest the formula, “When I am anxious about …abcd… I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ …. wxyz.” i.e. we choose to believe and declare Scripture. When I am anxious, I need to tell the Lord I rely on His promises and please will He now make good on them.
Now I would suggest there are two levels or sorts of anxiety. First of all there is the anxiety that many people live with, an underlying concern that everything is going badly, or everything is running out of control and I have no say in it. Perhaps a scripture to counter that for the believer comes from Psa 121 that we touched on in Study No.17 where we noted that five times (v.3,4,5,7,8) the writer says God watches over us concluding, “The Lord will keep you from all harm.” (v.7) This we might call ‘general anxiety’ which tends to focus on our general inability to cope with the ups and downs of life. But then there is the ‘how to’ anxiety, how to pass my exams, how to get my car repaired when I am short of money, or (as hit us the other day) how to stop an unknown source of a leaking roof, especially in the middle of winter when rain seems fairly continuous. These are the ‘concerns’ of life which sometimes we can do something about but often which seem beyond our current capabilities of being dealt with. Yes, we can pray for wisdom (Jas 1:5) but sometime, beyond that, we can only pray that somehow the Lord will grant us peace to hold us while we wait for a resolution of the problem. That much quoted Phil 4:6,7 shines on this: “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.” There is the answer: pray and wait. Wait for what? A peace which we cannot explain. The problem may not go away and we may still need wisdom to know how to proceed with it, but while we are waiting for that, there is this inexplicable, crazy peace. God’s amazing provision.