There are times when I’m physically ill. I get sick to my stomach doubled over in pain wondering what it is that I may have eaten to turn my stomach upside down. As I begin to examine what I ate and drank or if I was around anyone with a bug, it usually hits me: “you’re having an anxiety attack”. Within minutes, the pain subsides (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) at least enough to focus on the task at hand. The task is always to determine what’s triggering the anxiety.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 to not be anxious and allow the peace of God to protect our hearts and minds. The NIV translation states:
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 Jesus Christ.
Often times well-meaning people will say things like “the Word says ‘don’t be anxious’’ or “God will grant you ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ if you’re faithful”. In order to get that peace, there are about 30 other words with some pretty clear directions from that passage that usually get left out.
I worked through the passage to gain a better understanding of God’s word because I needed peace! Let me share my experience with you:
Paul: Do not be anxious about anything,
Me: Sounds good!
Paul: but in every situation,
Me: Oh there’s more? Ok, um, every situation? Like, every every?
Paul: by prayer and petition,
Me: Note to self, look up what a petition is.
Paul: with thanksgiving,
Me: I’m totally thankful! Put your hands up!!!
Paul: present your requests to God.
Me: Got it, check, will do!
Paul: And the peace of God,
Me: Ooooh I can’t wait. What’s that like?
Paul: which transcends all understanding,
Me: It does????
Paul: will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
The Word doesn’t say to just bring my occasional anxiety attacks to God through Jesus Christ. It say to bring every situation. This is a prescription for long term success, not overnight satisfaction wouldn’t you say? Now, I have no doubt in my mind that God can heal faster than we can blink. I also know that the Bible is our guidebook given to us by the Father not just to work out our own salvation and spread the Gospel, but for living a better life day by day.
Anxiety is a psychological reaction to our situations and surroundings that can manifest in many different physical ways. Paul outlines in Philippians 4:6-7, a practice for combating anxiety that may work for you. Some of us may need help to put the practice in motion and keep it going. Therapists, psychologist, psychiatrists and peer-support specialists are trained individuals that can help you along your journey towards peace. Talking to someone can be very beneficial.
For more information on anxiety feel free to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website at https://www.nami.org/
If you are having a mental health crisis please seek immediate medical attention or call 911.
Kelly Marie is a writer, speaker and advocate for mental health and sexual assault awareness.