Do you ever get caught in an inward and endless loop of, "What if?" -- "What if my health ... What if my kids ... What if my parents ... What if my plans ... What if a robber breaks in and ... ?"
Since anxiety sneaks around in human hearts like a common thief seeking to steal joy, we need to guard against its intrusions. But how?
There's an answer in Philippians 4:6-7 where the Apostle's words reveal a peace that is able to transcend understanding and guard hearts and minds, even when anxiety prowls within. At such invasive times, this passage says to pray, seeking God's peace in every situation, with thanksgiving, and with full assurance of his protective care.
In practice, this means I can bring to God specific worries and fears, both big and small.
Big matters might include swirling hurricanes, global conflicts, sudden acts of violence, seasons of suffering, dark days, the declining health of a loved one, and yes, the shadow of death itself. In sizable circumstances such as these, seeking God's peace makes sense; after all, big situations require big solutions, big surrender, a Savior. Big time.
While urgent, earnest prayer might seem only obvious then, what about during the simpler circumstances of life? Do we really need to seek God's peace in mundane matters like packing a bag, picking up an auto part, paying a few bills, or putting dinner on the table?
Frankly for me, it is precisely such small things that possess the best chance of breaking into my heart to steal joy. Here's why: because the little things seem so controllable; they seem like they are part of my domain, my wheelhouse, my responsibility. Yes (it seems), God takes care of the tornadoes and the terrorists; I've got the tiny stuff.
But seriously, will my worry and grasping at control somehow prevent that prospective terrible (fill-in-the-blank) thing from happening? Will inner anxiety cause my unease about unknowns to smooth out the small stuff? Hardly. It turns out in reality (and in theology), I need to seek the Lord in everything.
Meanwhile, as the Apostle presents it, my specific prayers need to be presented "with thanksgiving." Anxiety and thankfulness do not mix.