Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 Christ Jesus. Philippians 4 v 6-7.
There is so much we can get anxious about- coronavirus, health, jobs, savings, politics or merely the future – what will happen next? The TV and radio are full of negative or critical stories – often rightly so – and conversations often turn to what is worrying us. There are of course things we can do – obey the rules to protect ourselves from Coronavirus – to keep fit and eat healthy foods – spend wisely - to work hard or look for other jobs. But nagging doubts and worries still resurface even when there are no imminent or personal storms.
I have been waking up feeling anxious recently and, praying about this, a song popped into my head. It is a favourite song of mine, by Janet Lunt from St Michael le Belfrey, York, called “Have no anxiety”. Sadly not in print or Google so here I am on YouTube.
The words are from today’s bible verse, where, rather than being anxious, we are instructed to pray – to present our requests to God – whatever situation is troubling us and to do so with thanksgiving that our God always listens to us.
There is technique to deal with anxiety where you “Let Go” of your anxious thought or visualise placing it on a shelf. As Christians we can do better than that, as we are called to “cast our burdens on the Lord” for Him to deal with. In Matthew 6 v 25-27 Jesus said “ Do not worry about your life” and went on to show how if God provides for animals and plants then how much more does He care for us, his people.
Philippians 4 goes on to encourage us to then refill our minds with good things – noble, pure, admirable, praiseworthy and lovely things. I find that positive Christians I admire talk a lot more about these things than the anxieties. Try taking time in nature or a garden, reading a positive biography or looking for the good news stories*. A lovely old lady I knew, Olive Knight, dealt with anxieties about her failing health by writing down all the ways in which God had blessed her during her life. She placed this list on the mantelshelf and took it down to read and give thanks whenever she felt anxious.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you who knew so much suffering, who took such risks for us, hear our anxious thoughts. We cast our cares upon You, for You care for us. We are sorry we have taken for granted so much good in our lives and the world about us. Help us to focus on the good and Your blessings to us. We turn our eyes upon You, our strength and help. Grant us Your peace.
We pray for all those who are anxious and fearful in our society, we pray for good governance and positive media. We pray and give thanks for love and community and those selflessly helping others. We pray that all may find peace, and more than anything, the peace that passes understanding in You, our Lord. Amen.
*(Charlie Lambert is collecting ‘Good news’ stories so please drop her an email if you have one).