Deciding to write about worry was a mistake.
Whenever I start to write about something, God shines a huge spotlight in that area of my life and says, “let’s have a look here then.” It’s not been pleasant!
The past week has exposed that, despite working on this for a while, I appear to have a couple of worry issues still…and pride issues about whether I’m a worrier or not!
Can any of you relate?
Over the next few blogs, I’ll be looking at these well-known verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
“6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Reading the words “don’t worry” can make us bristle for many reasons and at this point, I need to make it clear that I’m talking about everyday worry rather than the kind of anxiety that requires professional support. We can often get defensive about worry; I know I do. Sometimes, I’ll share a concern, Lyndon will say, “Don’t worry,” and every time I just about manage to stop myself snapping back, “I’m NOT worrying.” Out of the many traps that we fall into, worry is the one we often justify the most. We either get defensive or resign ourselves to the idea that we are made to be worriers, there’s simply nothing we can do about it. At that point Paul pipes up out of nowhere telling us not to worry…about anything.
As always with Scripture, context is everything. Both the letter writer and its recipients had plenty of cause to worry. The location is up for debate, but we do know that Paul wrote these words while in captivity. His future was uncertain, the Jewish leaders were not big fans, and some of his fellow followers of the Way had abandoned him. The church at Philippi had remained supportive, providing Paul with food and money to sustain him during his imprisonment. They also had plenty of cause to worry. Those who believed in Jesus faced persecution, and the church at Philippi was no different. Battling with the constant fear for their lives and genuine concern for their friend in prison, it was understandable that the church at Philippi needed Paul’s reassurance. When first reading those words, some of the church must have bristled! They may have even envied Paul's ability to stay calm when they were struggling to keep it together.
In preparation for writing this blog, I let myself sit with my reaction to the words, “don’t worry about anything.” I grabbed my journal and wrote down my "worrying habits". I thanked God for how far I’ve come in this area, but it’s clear there’s still work to do. Before we move onto what happens next in these verses, I’d invite you to do the same.
“Don’t worry about anything.”
What do these words make you feel? Reassured, infuriated, defensive, hopeless, fill in the blank…
This is not a “beat yourself up” exercise; it’s merely a case of asking God to shine a spotlight on this area of our lives so that He can lead us to “the peace that will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” v7
If your response to these words overwhelms you, then please talk to someone and access the available support as you don't have to face this alone (a link is provided). If, like me, you simply want to experience more of the peace promised in these verses then join me on this journey.
“Peace is within reach, not for lack of problems, but because of the presence of a sovereign Lord. Rather than rehearse the chaos of the world, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty, as Paul did.”
Max Lucado - Be Anxious for Nothing