Many years ago, when I was in high school, I had a rough bout of illness and missed many school days in a row. In those years my dear friend stopped by every morning and we walked to school together. In those days of illness, she still faithfully stopped by each morning and checked if I was better and able to make the school journey. After missing a few days of school, she dropped me a get well note that included a quote from Philippians 4 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (verse 6 NIV)
Those were words much needed at that point. Missing multiple days in high school wasn’t good for my academic success. I had become extremely worried, on top of my illness, as I feared the challenges of catching up and maintaining my grades. My friend knew my concerns and my desire to maintain my grades to qualify for university scholarships. She was, and still is, a very wise friend – one who knows what words I need to hear and who isn’t afraid to share them.
This passage in Philippians has become a favourite since then. These words are both comforting and challenging. The comfort lies in the fact that there is a solution to anxiety – put all my worries and cares in God’s hands. But it challenges me as well to think about praying with thanksgiving when things in life are unsure and anxiety rears its ugly head.
Worry is a big problem for me and my constant need to over think things. I know for a fact that worry damages my health as I fret about multiple things in life. I have had times in my life with some serious worries and other times when it is just day to day stuff, but it all has the same effect – it robs me of my joy. Worry can also be paralyzing with the hopelessness is creates. It’s not a good place to be – feeling helpless.
But Paul has a good solution – pray! We can pray about anything, large or small. God listens and hears our supplications. What is interesting is Paul states we should pray with thanksgiving. Have you ever really tried that? I have and it is a wonder – as I thank God for His many blessings (specific things), I feel the worry dissipate. When I focus on God’s great love for me and reflect on the blessings He has already bestowed, I find there is less room in my heart and mind for worry.
I surely don’t get it right all the time – and the well worn Bible page where that verse is located is a testament to the fact that I need its reminder again and again. But true tranquility will not happen without remembering to leave my cares with God and trust that He will take care of them.