"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Here Paul is, urging the Philippian church to not be troubled. But in his rebuke, he doesn't leave them with an empty remark of "just don't worry about it." Instead, he provides a prescription to heed, a medicine to take. "Do not be anxious about anything, BUT in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving . . ." These two verses are simple, they first tell us not to partake in a certain problem shortly thereafter there is a prescription to that problem, and then we come to an assurance for believers that the peace of God will guard us when we take our proper medicine. The salve to soothe away the spasms of anxiety is prayer. I would be hard-pressed to say that every situation of an individual's battle with anxiety can be solved by flippant prayer, but I believe wholeheartedly that God Himself is making a promise to us through the apostle Paul. When we pray with whole hearts and minds, our eyes become glazed over, minimizing the feeble problems of this world and instead our senses become fixated on Christ Himself, who has already overcome the world. I know the descriptor of "feeble" to describing very real and very painful and very present suffering and anxiety might seem as unpleasant as nails on a chalkboard. We don't like to hear that our problems are small, which is why the phrase, "just don't worry" seems so unhelpful. But, as controversial as it may sound, to give the anxieties you experience, whether they be illness, job loss, or even death, the power of a stronger word than "feeble" is a disservice to the freedom we have in Christ. When we give anything this world throws at us a stronger word, we dilute the accomplishment of Christ on the cross; we lose focus that this world is not our home. We forget that we are coheirs with Christ, an imperishable nation of believers who will not taste a final death. This is, in part, the peace of God that verse 7 is speaking about. There are many wondrous and splendid things about the Gospel that we can and should and must contemplate. These thoughts should infiltrate our prayers and guard our hearts. Praising God for His goodness, and pleading for reprieve from anxiety is a safeguard from the persistent and worrisome thoughts that attempt to invade our minds.
2 Corinthians 10:5
"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."In this passage Paul is speaking to the Corinthians and though the Apostle is not saying this with anxiety specifically in mind, I believe it is fair to draw the benefits of "taking captive every thought" with regard to anxiety. Worried thoughts can easily be surmised as "lofty opinions" that go against the knowledge of God. This second tenant of battling against the fruition of anxious flesh ties closely in with what was said above about prayer. To actively combat anxious thoughts we must take them captive, shifting our focus from the deplorable thing to beautiful thing–Christ. In order to actively slay sin in this regard, we must first commit to seizing our every thought and bending it in obedience to Christ.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What do we do with the thoughts we've now diligently taken captive? Dwell on these things. Let that sink in for a moment. What is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and excellent? What is worthy of our praise? The Triune God. The gospel that plucked us from our sure fate in Hades. A low born babe of Mary, humble and laying Himself down for us. The Bride of Christ, His Church. The final resurrection, the second coming of our King. This is only a glimpse of the pure, joyous, and excellent things of which all are so much better and worthy to be thought of than the woes and throes of anxiety and death. Being a Christian does not guarantee you a life void of doubt and worry. It does, however, give you more than sufficient reason and resources to combat the sin of anxiety and instead stretch your eyes heavenward. For me, being a Christian was perhaps the hardest aspect of dealing with high-levels of worry. If the phrases I stated before were bad, imagine how much more ostracizing it is for people to tell you how sinful worry is without offering a solution beyond, "just stop that." Scripture is rich with examples of how as a church we are called-upon and urged to edify one another and spur one another on towards Christ. In most of my time in Christianity, I have not experienced that with anxiety. Scripture is not silent on the antidote for anxiety, and Christian, neither should we be. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.