Contemplating his own death, Paul in Philippians 1 expresses hope that whatever happens, he has on that day ‘sufficient courage’.
Then comes that great declaration ‘to live is Christ, to die is gain’ before the thought of continued ‘fruitful labour’ convinces him that it is better to remain ‘for your progress and joy in the faith’.
These two phrases became an early morning prayer for the day ahead… sufficient courage, fruitful labour… and have continued to be whispered in all manner of circumstances.
I’m content to have sufficient courage to be what I’m called to be and if this leads to fruitful labour, even better.
And to see progress in another’s joy or faith is certainly a great reason to keep turning up!
I think there is a difference between feeling anxious and being anxious.
Anxiety is a normal, perhaps even healthy, feeling when faced with the unknown, the unsafe or the unwanted. Usually this feeling of anxiety resolves when you pass through the situation and relief follows or, if your anxiety was justified, more concrete thoughts, actions and responses are required.
Sometimes it is the psycho-emotional effects of feelings of anxiety that help guide you through challenging situations – heightened vigilance, physical alertness (adrenalin), cautious progress.
But what if it is not so much that you ‘feel’ anxious, but that you are ‘being’ anxious; that you find yourself continuing in anxiety with or without an initial trigger.
Many of us in life can find ourselves weighed down with all the mental and physical responses of anxiety for hours, days or months. We are being anxious and we have forgetten how not to be anxious.
At such times, phrases such as the Biblical epigram for this post, “for nothing be anxious”, can seem infuriating and mindless to the person who would rather do anything but be anxious.
When our friends or spouses or colleagues tell us to ‘get over it’ when that is the one thing we can’t seem to do, we feel even more anxious. That is presuming anyone but ourselves even knows. In most cases, these predicaments are carried with silence, a supreme act of the will considering the turmoil inside.
So when the Bible says ‘for nothing be anxious’ do we have yet another voice condemning and consigning the anxious person to deeper isolation?Read More »