Victorious over anxiety and fear

Posted Feb 7, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Philippians 4:4-9

4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.

Reflection Questions

The apostle Paul’s statement that God’s peace “exceeds all understanding” may make more sense when we realize that he sent this letter from a dank, dreary Roman prison cell (cf. Philippians 1:12-14). Even there, he had God’s peace. He was an example of what great coach Lou Holtz said: “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”* And Paul shared a key he’d found for living in God’s peace: to give anything that might worry him to God in prayer.

  • Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things. The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. It is independent of outward circumstances.”** What things most often trigger anxiety in you? How can you incorporate Paul’s wisdom about taking those things to God in prayer more fully into your daily life?
  • Paul linked our ability to live in God’s peace with the mental “diet” we choose. He advised Christians to focus on what is “excellent,” “admirable,” “true,” “holy,” “just,” “pure,” “lovely,” and “worthy of praise” (verse 8). How easy or hard do you find it to focus your thoughts on those qualities with reality TV, insulting Twitter feuds and programs about murder and mayhem seemingly all over the place? How could Paul’s wisdom become a key helping you live out God’s gift of a peace that exceeds all understanding?

Prayer

Lord God, when I feel anxious, or angry, or despairing, grant me your peace. Grow in me the spirit of Julian of Norwich, who wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Amen.


* Quote found at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/lou_holtz.

** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John—Volume 2, Chapters 8–21, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 171.

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Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Say you’re in an empty room. Chances are you have no problem walking from one side to the other. You could probably even run. There’s nothing in your way, no obstacles to traverse. Simple enough, right?

Now let’s say you go into that same room at night. The electricity is out. There’s no moonlight nor streetlights peering through the window. You have no access to a phone, flashlight, candle, or any source of light. It’s pitch black. 

Would you still run? Probably not. Would you walk briskly? Doubt it. But if you think about it, why wouldn’t you? There are no obstacles or anything in your way. It’s the exact same room. The only difference is the unknown brought about by the darkness.

In life, Fear is that darkness. Fear hides truth and creates illusions of what might be there. Fear keeps us from moving forward because “what if?” “What if something bad happens?” “What if I get hurt?” “What if I fail?” There are a bazillion “what ifs” to consider (and trust me, I often consider them all), but that doesn’t mean they are reality. Fear is a nasty, manipulative liar, trying to hold us back. Unfortunately, all too often, Fear gets its way.

I was once talking to a friend about a situation that was paralyzing me with fear, and she said something that I’ll never forget: “Is it possible for that to happen? Sure, anything is possible. It’s possible that a bear could walk through those doors and attack us. Is it probable? No. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it is probable.” Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it is probable. Fear tries to tell us otherwise. It conceals truth by keeping us in the dark, feeding a pretense of dangerous, improbable possibilities. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that there is a healthy amount of innate fear within us which is intended to keep us safe.  But how often is the fear we feel healthy and how often is it a result of falling prey to lies? All too often it is the latter.  Fear is a con artist who uses darkness as its vice.

The easiest way to combat Fear? Find Light -- True Light, Light who pierces through pain and darkness, Light who conquered death, Light who brings life, Light who proclaims that the worst thing is never the last thing. Christ, our Light, really can cast out all Fear. Why? Because Light overcomes darkness, destroying the pretense of Fear by showing us truth. We walk boldly in this truth knowing that Jesus is alive, God is good, we are never alone, and we don’t have to be held back by improbable possibilities when True Light guides our way. 

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