Philippians 4 and our Anxious Mind

Photo by Mayr via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The mind is a funny thing.

Years ago I memorized Philippians 4 as part of my devotional time. For me, I find Bible memory a great way to focus my sometimes unfocusable mind. And I find that I live out Scripture better when it is embedded in my head as opposed to plucked from a book.

You can memorize a large chunk of Scripture and then it just kind of sits there, on ice, waiting to be used again. So I was a bit surprised to wake up with this stuck on repeat this morning:

Philippians 4

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

Exhortations

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Thanks for Their Gifts

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

It’s always shocked me that a man could write these words while in prison. Rejoice? You’re chained to a wall, dude! Peace of God? Are you freaking kidding me! Think about praiseworthy stuff? I’d be thinking about busting out! Your joy and crown? Are you blind! You can’t even see daylight from where you are.

And yet, that’s what Paul wrote as he closed out his letter to the church in Philippi.

Photo by Teresia via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The last couple of days have been filled with anxiety for me. It’s unexplainable and irrational. Factually, I have nothing to be anxious about! I don’t know if its tied to my re-entry or what, but it’s been driving me nuts. On Thursday, as I rode my bike home I just kept having this feeling that I was about to get hit by a car. Then as I sat on the trolley a silly thought came into my mind about a woman seated near me. She was wearing a big, heavy jacket and my imagination got the best of me. I couldn’t shake the idea that maybe she was a suicide bomber and I kind of panicked. The whole way home my heart and mind were racing. I was laughing at myself the whole time. But I just had a hard time shaking it, too.

Philippians 4 helped calm me down and brought me back to a rational state in that moment.

That little episode of stray anxiety reminded me that we live in an anxious society. Our nation is filled with people who are 99.9% secure but still filled with fear. We have access to everything at nearly any moment and yet we only think about how we can get more. We almost never suffer. We almost never go hungry. We almost never want for anything we actually need. So we become anxious for more security, less chance of suffering, more food, and more stuff.

Literally, we (myself included) are sick because we have too much. And we are still anxious for more.

Perhaps I am not alone in needing the truths of Philippians 4 to bring me back to reality in moments of silly panic?

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

2 comments

  1. So, so true.

    This is a great comment and I will probably quote you on it sometime in the future, “We have access to everything at nearly any moment and yet we only think about how we can get more. We almost never suffer. We almost never go hungry. We almost never want for anything we actually need. So we become anxious for more security, less chance of suffering, more food, and more stuff.”

    Since I have begun my walk with the Lord I’ve learned about that “God-sized hole” we all have in us that only He can fill. The way our society has replaced the Almighty with the almighty dollar is a big subject with me. You have been to Haiti and witnessed first-hand how people can live in with much less “stuff” than we have, and for the most part they are still a content, loving, and God-fearing people.

    Today we want to erect fences and walls to keep people in need away from us for fear that if by helping others we might somehow be hurt. We might lose our precious money and lives of comfort if we share with those in need. So up go the fences around our nation and the walls around our yards. More locks go on the doors. Furniture sits unused on our front porches. Even the faithful stay inside of their church walls.

    The Fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, goodness, contentment — only come from God. Phillipians 4 is a perfect illustration.

    Okay, I am shutting up now, this is your blog, not mine!

    Well done, Adam! God bless you and yours.

  2. Hello! Thank you for sharing this. I too struggle with anxiety and it is the Lord using scripture memory in my life that has helped me greatly! This article you wrote was just what I needed to read today! God bless you! -Julie

Leave a Reply