By, John Feddema 

Are you anxious, worried about the future, your future? Anxiety is the inevitable unease that gnaws at our confidence, the slow suffocation as we feel strangled by the challenges of life. The men that arrived at the Gatehouse Retreat Center on the Blaylock Ranch in Junction, Texas had anxiety written on their faces. They showed up to the First Responders Legacy Program unsure of what to expect, carrying a ruck sack full of the burdens of life. They arrived in Texas searching for hope and healing.  

Unfortunately, the unprecedented access to information about current events has failed to provide confidence in the future. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. It has blurred any certainty we thought we might have, like a fog clouding our path forward. According to statistics, nearly 1 in 3 individuals will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime and it is estimated that 300 million individuals will be afflicted annually. This is not just a concern about the future but a nervousness that casts a shadow over our hearts and goes beyond our ability to manage. Treatment is inconsistent and the scientific community continues to try and study the underlying neurobiology to search for a solution to the root cause. Is there a solution? They are yet to find one studying the complexity of the brain; however, consider Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi when he wrote; 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

‘Be anxious for nothing’. This is easy advice for someone secure in their situation but for anyone who has lived long enough to experience pain, suffering, or disappointment, this is equivalent to telling the trees to stop blowing in the wind. However, before you disregard Paul’s advice, consider his circumstances when he wrote this letter. At the time he composed these words, he was imprisoned in Rome, expecting a trial which might end in his own death. Either way, Rome was not in the habit of letting a prisoner go without first drawing blood. The Church in Philippi was faring considerably better than Paul when he penned this letter and yet, having no ability to control his own fate, he encouraged them to ‘be anxious for nothing’.   

This advice is not a call to close our eyes to the challenges of reality and endure the blows of life with blind ignorance. We will be challenged and we will face adversity. Paul’s advice: don’t flinch. Don’t run, don’t hide, and don’t ignore the reality of our circumstances. Embrace the hardship and ‘in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’. To hold back a percent of your anxiety is to hold back a portion of your heart. To allow the burden to remain, allows a shadow to continue to be cast over your heart. When Paul wrote ‘in everything’ he meant it in the greatest sense of the word, all of it. All of the worry that strangles on our hearts, our minds, and our souls. 

What then does Paul say to do? Pray. Bring it all before the Lord through prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. If something is great enough to gnaw at our heart, it is great enough to bring to the Lord. To humbly petition the Lord to supply what is needed in our current circumstance. This is not simply the act of closing our eyes and bowing our heads and reciting words from memory. It is not a superficial experience or act. It is a mode of prayer whereby we surrender our hearts and minds, being fully dependent upon God in our current situation. This is the solution.    

What are we provided? ‘The peace of God which surpasses all comprehension.’ Can you think of anything greater? I would expect that you can’t, considering the verse clearly identifies that we will not be able to comprehend the peace that God will provide us in our most desperate situations.  Once again, this peace is not built upon the denial of our challenges, our grief, and our hardship. It is fully embracing our current circumstances and trusting that God has a plan in life and in death. Through this trust, hope flourishes, and in hope, we will find peace. This is not a passive comfort but an active peace that ‘will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus’ that is beyond our understanding. To be ‘in Christ Jesus’ is to fully surrender to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ through His life, death, and resurrection, so that we would be made righteous in the sight of God through faith and repentance.  

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 



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