Concerns in these Anxious Times
Where are we headed? There are things that have happened in our country in the last few years that have caused us all a great deal of anxiety. I have prayed for many years for GOD to bless this country so that my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will have a place to peacefully serve the LORD. The events of recent times cause me to wonder if GOD will answer this prayer in the affirmative.
Even last night a fine young man stopped me in the parking lot to express his concern. He said he just felt like the world was crashing down on us. I encouraged him to stand firm on his faith; to join me in vowing never to give up, to fight the good fight unto the end, whatever that is.
But I too am concerned. So this morning it has driven me to the Word. This was only after my time in prayer to the One who “removes kings and raises up kings” (Dan 2:21).
My thoughts this morning will center on chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. There are several points I would like to note concerning this passage of Scripture. Philippians 4:6 begins “Be anxious for nothing…”
1. I am no Greek scholar but sometimes there are lessons to be learned by examining the original language of the New Testament. The Greek tense, mood and voice for this familiar passage is – Present, Imperative, and Active. The Present tense simply means it is an ongoing continual action. In the negative sense it means to stop the continual action. We are to stop this ongoing anxiety.
And the Imperative mood means it is a command. Paul’s admonition by Inspiration is not a suggestion. It is a command! We are to STOP our worry and anxiety. Admittedly, on our own this is easier said than done but if we look at the context of the passage we see the directions we are to follow.
2. In the context from verse 4 he tells us to rejoice in the LORD always. Why are we to rejoice? The answer is found in the closing line of verse 3 – because our names are in the Book of Life. This perspective helps us to deal with any and all anxieties. When we take an eternal view of our present status, the problems and concerns look different. Again, not easy but necessary. When we view any problem of life we should ask ourselves ‘what difference will it make in 100 years?’
3. Verse 6 begins, “Be anxious for NOTHING…” Read Matthew 6:25ff for a listing of the things for which we are NOT to be anxious. This listing includes all the necessities of life, namely food, clothing, shelter, etc.
4. And continuing – “In EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication” – don’t miss the obvious contrast between nothing and everything. In nothing we are to worry; In everything we are to be in prayer. The text notes we are to make our requests known unto Him. 1 Peter 5:7 reads, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Now when we give our cares to Him, don’t try to take them back. He has promised that He cares for us. Let Him handle the problems. We just remain faithful to Him.
5. And if we handle our anxieties in this way, what is the promise given to us? Read Phil 4:7. “And the peace of GOD which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts…” We can’t comprehend the peace described here. But the word guard comes from a Greek word that is a military term for protecting a fort. The term is garrison. If we handle our anxiety according to the formula found here, we are promised a peace beyond our imagination that will protect us emotionally.
6. And we should not stop our reading here at verse 7. Continue with verse 8 to see how we counteract these negative worries. Paul gives us a laundry list of good things to think on – things that are true, just, pure, lovely, good report. On these things we are to meditate.
7. Our minds are going to be filled with thoughts of some kind. These thoughts will either be positive or negative. Paul gives us several categories of positive thoughts with which to fill our minds. It is not enough to tell ourselves NOT to think on these anxious thoughts and concerns. We must proactively replace them with something of a positive nature. These are categories worthy of our thoughts.
8. The word meditate means more than just a casual, passing thought. It means to ponder, to focus one’s attention for an extended period of time. Doing so prevents us from getting so caught up in the immorality of the world and the concerns of the direction in which we are headed.
9. Finally, we examine a part of Phil 4:6 skipped over earlier. In the midst of all of this, we are to be in prayer with thanksgiving. How might you ask can we be thankful during a time of great concern and anxiety? It is a mindset. Choose to see the glass half full.
One can always find the bright side for which to be thankful. I give credit to Burton Coffman’s commentary on Philippians for sharing the following from a sermon by George Henry Stephenson of Memphis, Tennessee.
- In youth one may thank God for the brightness and prospect of life beckoning to the future.
In age one may thank God that life has been extended so long.
In health one may thank God for the greatest of physical blessings.
In illness one may thank God for wise physicians, kind nurses and the tender concern of loved ones.
In wealth one may thank God for having been made the steward of such large accounts.
In poverty one may thank God for Him, who though He was rich became poor that He might make many rich, and for His special promise, “Blessed are the poor.”
In the event of great loss one may thank God for blessings he is yet permitted to retain. In death itself the Christian can thank God for the hope of eternal life.
As Christians, let us all be diligent in our prayer life for our country and for our succeeding generations of loved ones. And let us remember that at all times and places, in all circumstances and situations, the Christian will thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord, for the life He lived, the death He died, His resurrection from the dead, for His everlasting gospel by which we are saved, and for the peace that passes all understanding.