God’s Antidote for Anxiety
Anxiety. The dictionary defines it as distress or uneasiness of mind that is causedby fear of danger or misfortune. Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental illness in the United States, with about 18% of the population being affected by them. Anxiety is like a poison. It can be very destructive, robbing our strength and eating away at our internal organs. People often find different ways of dealing with anxiety. Some of the ways of dealing with anxiety, such as alcohol, medication, and strenuous exercise can be just as or even more destructive than the anxiety itself. But God provides us with the best antidote for anxiety, which is found in Philippians 4:6-7. That antidote is the peace of God. So, how do we receive that antidote?
Receiving God’s antidote for anxiety begins with realizing that anxiety is not God’s will for us. Paul tells us that we should not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6). He is not saying that we should just live a carefree life, pretending that everything is fine even when it isn’t. We need to care and have genuine concern when faced with a difficult situation. What we don’t need to do is worry. When we give in to worry, we are not putting our trust where it belongs—in God.
Paul goes on to say that in everything (not just some things, but all things), through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we should present our requests to God (Philippians 4:6). In other words, we need to replace our worry with prayer. Anything in our lives that causes us to feel anxious is an opportunity for prayer. Praying about the issues of life basically protects us from worry. Through our prayer, we acknowledge our dependence on God and on His provision.
Let’s look more closely at what Paul tells us we should do. We need to pray, presenting our specific needs to God. But, most importantly, our prayers should be accompanied by thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a heart attitude, an expression of gratitude. It should not be viewed as an additive to prayer, something we just tack on to our requests. Rather, thanksgiving should be the very spirit of our prayers. Our prayers should be saturated with thanksgiving.
When we pray in this way, we receive God’s antidote for anxiety. Our anxiety is replaced by the peace of God, a peace that is beyond our comprehension, a peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Jesus (Philippians 4:7). The Greek word for peace here is eirēnē, a word that conveys a range of meanings, including “freedom from anxiety.” This peace cannot be obtained through counseling, therapy, or any self-help methods. It is God’s peace, and only He can provide it. When Paul says that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds, he uses a military term phrourēsei, which means to “to protect or garrison by guarding.” Paul saw the peace of God as a soldier who protects our hearts and minds from anxiety, fear, and doubt.
When life makes you anxious and that anxiety threatens to pull you down, remember that thanksgiving added to prayer and petitions, minus anxiety, equals the peace of God. That’s a great formula to remember.