“Be anxious for nothing” Paul the Apostle exhorts his Philippian brothers and sisters in Christ (Phil. 4:4) even as he awaited in prison what was certain to be for him a trip to the beheading block. He was intensely involved in church planting, and the 1st century climate in which he was evangelizing was anything but friendly to his kind. Yet, Paul commands: “Be careful (anxious) for nothing,” or “Don’t worry about anything!”
Through the ages others, in poetry and prose, have echoed Paul’s sentiments. Victor Hugo opined, “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake!” Another author, George McDonald, wrote that no man ever sank under the burdens of a day, but only when the burdens of tomorrow were added onto the burdens of today does the weight of the load become unbearable. Beecher affirmed that work never killed anyone, but that worry is the killer. “It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery but the friction. Fear secretes acids but love and trust are sweet juices.”
We’ve not lacked for reasons during these past twelve pandemic months to worry. Can we keep our house? Will our job last? Should I leave the house for fear of contracting the deadly Covid-19 virus? Is the vaccine safe? Will we ever get back to normal? And worries ad infinitum!
At a time like this it is imperative that people of faith draw deeply on that faith, and it’s from God’s Word that we receive hope and help for the crisis. Jesus reminded his followers that the very hairs of their head were numbered. Consider: every one of the hairs of your head has a number and when one hair falls to the ground, that number is removed from the whole! Again, our Lord said that two sparrows are sold for a farthing (how insignificant a creature!), yet not one of them shall fall to the ground without our heavenly Father taking note of it (Matt. 10: 29,30). The implication: if God is that minutely concerned about every small creature, does not his concern for you far exceed His concern for lesser creatures so that you need be anxious for nothing!
A soldier (WW I) decided it was futile to worry about his future. He thusly reasoned: “Of two things one is certain: either you are on the front lines, or you are behind the front lines. If you are at the front, one of two things is certain, either you are exposed to danger or you are in a safe place; if you are exposed to danger, one of two things is certain, either you are wounded or you are not wounded; if you are wounded, one of two things is certain, either you will recover or you will die; if you recover there is no need to worry and if you die you cannot worry, so WHY WORRY?“ (copied)
There are some practical things one can do to lessen the probability of unprofitable fretting: (1) Cultivate relationships with friends with whom you may share your burdens and from whom you can solicit prayer support; (2) Eat, sleep and exercise sensibly; (3) Saturate your mind with Bible promises or principles such as Psalm 56:3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (4) Allow good Christian music to flood your soul with its soothing and comforting assurances; (5) Practice what Jesus taught when he urged us to “take no thought for tomorrow,” and (6) attend to details avoiding procrastination so that your “things to worry about” list does not grow longer and longer.
Paul, in the Philippian passage that we started with in the greater context of that verse wherein he said that we should “Be careful (anxious) for nothing,” enumerates some key concepts that go with the “Be careful for nothing” admonition:
- He urges that we should not forget to rejoice (in the Lord and “always).”
- He tells us that we should maintain a “non-combative” spirit. The word translated “moderation” in verse 5 where it says immediately following the “Be anxious for nothing” command that we should let our moderation be known to all men is a word that means gentleness or kindness. We are not out looking for trouble or living with a chip on our shoulder.
- Paul, as he always does, exhorts us to pray often and about everything: “…but in everything by prayer and supplication….” (Phil. 4:6)
- And he declares that we should never abandon a grateful attitude: “…with thanksgiving…” and, finally,
- Paul assures us that the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
So again, why worry when you can pray? A medical doctor, having examined studies, said that patients who would meditate and pray could expect to experience a significant drop in their blood pressure.
“Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know why these anxious human beings fret about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, I suppose that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.”
“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” (Ps. 37:5)