By guest writer, Katie Pearson
“Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” - Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for Year B, Proper 20
What keeps you up at night? Who are you thinking about more than God? Anxiety is defined as, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” It shows up as a “what if?” mindset rooted in possibilities, not probabilities.
Sometimes, anxiety stems from past experience; for example, my oldest daughter has suffered from a series of medical conditions. Now that she’s at college, I experience a lingering fear that something else will happen and I won’t be there to help her. In those moments, I remind myself that she is capable of making good decisions in a crisis, and the Lord is always near to meet all her needs in ways I never can or will.
When under stress, I also find myself anxious about more petty things. For example, did my client receive my feedback as I intended? Why isn’t my friend reaching out as much as she used to? Is it just a cold, or something more serious? Where do you find your mind going when you are tired, irritable, or feeling out of control?
We all feel anxious at times; that’s normal. There’s plenty to be concerned about during our stay on earth. But when worry begins to displace God’s peace and presence at the center of our lives, then we become consumed with people, circumstances, and potential threats that keep us from recognizing the Holy Spirit’s activity in our daily lives and finding comfort in God’s Word. Rather than waking up every morning overwhelmed by God’s love and excited to step out in faith, we hunker down praying that the fear, like a storm, will simply pass. Sound familiar?
Max Lucado writes that the most underlined Scripture in the entire Bible is Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Pause here for a moment and exhale. God isn’t asking you to become fearless; for most of us, that’s impossible. But he does want us to cry out to him when we feel paralyzed by earthly things, so he can restore our sight and see the Lord in our midst above all else. Psalm 34:4 reads, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
We cannot keep our minds and hearts on God’s kingdom without the Holy Spirit’s active presence in our lives. Let’s turn to God this week to first reveal where we have been distracted by the temporal, and continue praying for him to redirect us to the eternal. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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