The 9th most-searched-for Bible verse on the Internet is Philippians 4:6. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This verse is commonly referred to when people are going through difficult times and are feeling anxious about the world and during chaotic times—kind of like now.
However, this verse is easier to read than to do. It’s hard to “not be anxious.” If it were easy, nobody would be anxious, right? If it were easy, fewer counselors and mental health professionals would specialize in anxiety. So, what is Paul, the writer of Philippians, trying to say here?
Here are a few takeaways from this verse that I believe can help us all.
- Paul offers hope that anxiety CAN be overcome. Some of our anxiety is circumstantial; in these situations, we can know that these feelings are temporary. For some of us, our anxiety is rooted in our physiology and needs to be treated with medication and/or therapy. Even if this is true for you, there is incredible hope that God is with you as you journey with anxiety.
- Overcoming anxiety is a continuous process. Paul says that we should turn to God in “every situation.” This is not just a one-time cure-all. It's not a one-and-done prayer.
- Committing to prayer relinquishes our control over our lives and places it in the hands of the all-loving God. You and I cannot deal with our anxiety and fear alone. By praying, we trust that God can and will deliver us from our anxiety.
- We have to do our part. Paul says that we are to pray with “thanksgiving” to God. So many times, when we are anxious, we only see the bad things. We only see the times that things aren't going our way. When we have an attitude of gratitude, we can miraculously see the good around us. Even in the darkest of times, there is still good happening around us. Try extra hard to see the good things and not just the bad.
In these crazy times we're living in, try to find the good. Don't fixate on the news reports and grim statistics that only increase your anxiety. Focus on the positives. Focus on how God is still shaping and molding you during this time. God still loves you, and he has a plan for you.
Philippians 4:6 is the 9th most searched for Bible verse, but the 2nd most searched verse, behind only John 3:16, is Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God still loves you, and he still has a plan for you. Trust in him a little more each day, and you will begin to see his hand is still working amidst all the craziness.
While the author of this quote is unknown, it's a good reminder: “I don't know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.” The one who holds the future is the same God who loves you. Trust in God and keep moving forward.
Dr. Bryan Gill is an administrator and instructor at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. He and Sarah married in 2006, and they have two children. He has co-authored two books in the How to be a Man devotional line and recently published his debut novel, The Devils in Alabama. He is the co-host of The Storied Outdoors, a podcast somewhere between Lewis and Tolkien and Lewis and Clark. Find out more at www.bryangill.com.