by Ricky Smith
The common command used in an emergency fire is to “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. Surely this is great advice to extinguish a flame that is causing external pain, but what command can be applied when the internal flame of anxiety burns uncontrollably?
According to the AADA, anxiety affects 18% of adults in American and 1 in 8 children. Approximately 30% of those seek help and for all of them, it is highly treatable. While counseling is incredibly beneficial, the ultimate remedy comes from God. His challenge is provided in Philippians 4:6, when we are given the command to “Stop and Drop”.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul commands believers to stop being anxious. Jesus gave a similar mandate in Matthew 6:25, when He said, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment??”
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or distress in view of possible danger or misfortune. It can be a legitimate problem, or an unnecessary worry. Whether warranted or not, the emotion is real. Paul challenges the Philippians, and us, to not worry about anything. That literally means nothing. How can this be done? It ultimately is a matter of trust and an issue of control.
If a person can reach a place of being comfortable with not being in control, perhaps they can trust the Creator of the world to orchestrate His plan for their best interest. Recognizing His power and control can lead to a peace that is promised in Philippians 4:7.
To simply hear, “Stop it”, does not help a person struggling with anxiety. They would love to just make it stop. It is important to also focus on an action. Surely to “stop” is important, but we must also “drop”.
Many coping techniques are taught to an anxious mind. Redirection, focus, and relaxation are all important techniques to calm the mind and body. Paul, however, provides the ultimate action, and that is prayer.
Jesus wants us to pray about everything. Often a person resorts to prayer when nothing else works, and often uses prayer for issues they can’t fix themselves. What if we learned to pray about matters big and small, and sought God’s plan and will at the beginning of an issue rather than after we had done all we could. Once again, this is a matter of control and trust.
Interestingly, Paul separates pray and supplication. Initially, this seems redundant, but a closer look at the words results in clarity. Prayer is the common action of offering requests to a higher power. This refers to a general attitude of submission. Supplications are more specific and denote a desperate plea for a specific need.
Whether general or specific in nature, we are challenged to pray with thanksgiving. This ingredient is critical. God has promised that He hears our prayer. Consider 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” Therefore, we should expect an answer, and thank Him in advance for hearing our cry.
Imagine if our prayer included a statement like, “God, thank you for hearing me and I expect and answer; so I will thank you in advance.” While His answer and timeline may be different than what we hope, the confidence by which we approach His throne will be with a different attitude when we apply a heart of thanksgiving.
The ultimate experience and promise are peace. God offers the peace that is beyond our comprehension when we trust Him. The anxious heart naturally struggles with trust and the anxious mind constantly wonders what might happen. While is may seem unnatural, we must fully submit our control to God. He is able to keep us. He is able to provide for us. He is able to correct any mistake. He is able to heal. He is able!