Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
The young girl sat a couple of pews behind me last Sunday. Her 10-year-old brow was furrowed and her face was invaded by a frown that overcame even the colors of her Sunday dress. She was not happy about having to keep her distance from others in these days of social distancing. She was not happy about not having Sunday School. She seemed quite anxious. Worried. Her parents were as reassuring as they could be. But I could see it in their eyes: they were worried as well.
There’s plenty of that going around these days. Seasonal allergies which bring sneezing and coughing trigger lingering thoughts of possible much more dire illness. Dark hours of the night allow all manner of possible difficult scenarios parade before the landscape of the mind. The news is a steady drumbeat of COVID-19 Virus troubles.
Once in a while an email will come with helpful ideas about coping in one way or another. A government program offers certain financial relief for some. News of more testing options give a glimmer of hope. Time will tell in all these things.
A more substantial and farther-reaching answer to anxiety is offered by God. Rather than being anxious we can pray. This is far better than simply being told, “Don’t worry. Worry doesn’t help anything.” That’s true, and good as far as it goes.
But here we are invited not to worry but, rather, to pray. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” I like to call this the “blank check passage.” There is nothing that needs to take our hearts captive to fear. There is no need to borrow trouble about anything. Through prayer we have access to all of God’s favor, grace, goodness, love, and power. There’s no problem too big that his power cannot handle, and no concern too small that he will dismiss.
I don’t believe we should be dismissive when someone is fretting and filled with anxiety. It’s not enough to dismiss their concerns – especially in the face of these times and fears. But these words are so very appropriate: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. That’s the anxiety-antidote we all need. Perhaps prayer can serve even a vaccine against the worry virus!
Let us pray…
Dear Father in heaven, forgive me when I worry. I know I cannot add an hour to my life by worrying. I know it is a futile exercise of borrowing trouble. But sometimes – in the weakness of my flesh – I worry. I fret. I think of all the bad possibilities. I imagine all the worst outcomes. Even though I know my eternal salvation is secured by your Son, my Lord Jesus, I still struggle as I think about how I will make it through these difficult times.
But I praise you for your faithfulness. I rejoice in your power. I thank you for your promises. I delight in your mercy. I know that even though my faith may waiver, your faithfulness never wanes. I can rely on you – especially as it becomes obvious that I do not have the necessary strength to navigate the days ahead.
Help me, O God, to maintain a humble attitude during these difficult times. Help me not to presume that I can handle things that I cannot. Help me not to think that I know better than you about how things should, or must, or will work out!
Grant me Jesus’ peace – peace that the world cannot give. Grant me the peace that passes all understanding. Grant me the peace that surrenders my heart to your goodness and love and believes that I am safe in your care.
Give me the mind, by your Holy Spirit’s power, to think on the things that are good and excellent, and the strength to pray rather than worry. Thank you for the hope I have in Jesus Christ through his life, death, resurrection, and in anticipation of his Second Coming on the Great Last Day. Keep me and my loved ones in your care until that time when we will be gathered before your throne on high and rejoice in the consummation of your redemptive love.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.