Life can hit us hard with things we don’t expect at times and it becomes harder to keep up a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook in these circumstances.
Whenever we experience anxiety or worry, perhaps about what the future holds, or a family problem, loss, health issues, or any other obstacle, the Bible gives us powerful words to hold on to in moments like these.
One of them is to ‘be anxious over nothing’. On the surface, it sounds a bit difficult to do, but every word written in the Bible takes our humanity and weaknesses into consideration and so has its special meaning to us today.
What does the Scripture really mean when it tells us to worry over nothing and how can we possibly keep anxiety out of our lives with everything raging around us?
This phrase is found in the book Philippians 4:6 which says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.
To fully grasp the true meaning behind this verse, we must first paint a picture of the context in which it was written.
The book of Philippians was Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, a colony in the Macedonia district. The Bible records that Paul encountered the believers there for the first time in Acts 16.
Being a pagan community, persecution was prevalent towards Christians.
Acts 16:19-23 even records the persecution of Paul and Silas on their first journey there saying,
“They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
“These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison”
Despite all this, they persevered in bringing the gospel to the people there. After establishing the church, Paul knew how hard it would be for them to face the persecution they were not used to, especially for their faith. That was why he penned down that verse in the book of Philippians to them through the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
Instead of worrying about who would be beaten next or how they would survive, thereby solving nothing, they could take those burdens to God and let Him give them the strength to persevere in preaching the gospel and holding fast to their faith.
Coming from Paul, this verse was not just to discourage them from worrying about their situations, but also to let them understand that they couldn’t change anything by being anxious. This is the same message this verse presents to us even today.
“Be anxious over nothing”
This means that we must not let anything, be it frustration, disappointments, or any type of struggle raise our anxiety levels.
Someone once gave an illustration that it is not the water around a boat that sinks it, but the water that is allowed to enter it. It’s the same thing with the human mind. The issues that we allow to get into our minds and trouble us are the ones that become stubborn problems.
” … but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
This part of Philippians 4:6 enlightens us that as Christians, rather than worry, there are two reactions that we can choose to have to whatever comes our way; prayer and supplication, and thanksgiving.
It’s simply saying that whatever happens, we should give thanks and pray about it. We cannot change anything by being anxious, but involving God is a whole different ball game. We can even move mountains when we pray about our problems.
“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
“7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
“15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
“16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
“25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.
“22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”
The Bible clearly says in Matthew 6:27
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
This, along with Philippians 4:6 are powerful verses that serve as a reminder that though fear takes hold of us sometimes, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we must not give an ear to its voice.
God is still in control and is still looking after us no matter how things may seem, so be anxious for nothing. Keep your eyes not on the storm, but on the man walking on the water who tells you to wade in.