COVID cases are rising again. The mask debate has become violent in many communities and schools. There’s a hurricane headed for the northeast. There is flooding in the south. Haiti continues to struggle politically and many are harbored in their homes for fear of going out into the streets. Aftershocks continue to happen in Haiti following the devastating earthquake and many are homeless. There is chaos in Afghanistan following the collapse of the government and the takeover by the Taliban. The evacuation of people desperate to flee the Taliban is overwhelming and people are losing hope.
Fifteen minutes into any newscast may have you feeling hopeless, depressed, and worrying about everything!
Yet, the world is not much different than it was in the time of Paul when he wrote to the church at Philipp,. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, pray with thanksgiving to God.” Paul wrote these words to a church that was about to become paralyzed by worry instead of active in the ministry of sharing the Gospel. Paul wasn’t being trite. He was reminding these young Christians to keep their focus on God, knowing that God’s presence would bring comfort and strength in perilous times.
Toxic anxiety is a real danger in today’s world. It threatens to paralyze us by keeping our mind focused on fear that consumes and overwhelms our thoughts and actions. Instead of taking an aspirin for a headache, we worry that we have brain cancer. Yes, toxic anxiety is exactly what Paul was addressing in his time, and his words have much to say to us today as well.
We will always have things we worry about. But, toxic anxiety is when those worries take over our thoughts to the point where we become paralyzed and begin to lose all rational thought. “Don’t worry, be happy,” makes for a cute song, but it can go a long way in helping us keep our anxiety and worry in check.
You are invited to spend this week reading and digesting Philippians 4:6-7, and giving your worries to God. Begin by writing down the top 5 things you are worried about. Name your worries. Say them out loud. Next, offer your worries to God, praying for God to take the burdens off your heart. Ask God to fill the spaces in your head and heart with comfort, peace, calm, and rest.
Practice this breath prayer: Take a deep breath as you think, “Come Lord Jesus.” Release that breath as you think, “Grant me peace.” Repeat this breath prayer several times when you feel yourself being consumed by worry and anxiety. Know that God is with you in all things, good and bad, bringing peace and rest to your worrisome soul. Amen