by Melissa McDonald
The whole thing was so ridiculous I could hardly take my toddler seriously. My husband and I were bringing food from the kitchen to the table when she panicked that she wouldn’t get dinner.
I hollered over my shoulder, “Don’t worry sweetheart, we’ll bring you food.”
My daughter burst into tears. “I wowwied, Mommy! I wowwied!”
Eventually she acknowledged that — in theory — we always feed her. But as soon as it was time for seconds she lost it again. “I need something to eat. Daddy’s going to eat it all gone!”
Later that night my husband remarked, “She really doesn’t believe we’re good.” I began to feel uncomfortable. The dinner incident made me laugh, but then I realized that I was the punchline. I’m the ridiculous one who worries that God won’t give me “daily bread.”
As soon as anxiety comes up in my heart I shift my weight a bit looking for a more comfortable place to go because I can’t shake the feeling. “But,” someone will say, “the Bible tells us exactly what to do about anxiety!”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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” (Phil. 4:6-7).
I can feel the guilt pile on because I have recited all those words. I have said the words with thanksgiving, but they didn’t cast out my anxiety.
To understand this passage in Philippians 4 rightly I must remember that the Bible is not a book of spells. God’s word is a book about a Person– the one who is “the Word” (John 1:1). Before Paul tells us anything about anxiety he reminds us in verse 5, “The Lord is near.”
The Lord is near. Therefore, do not be anxious about anything.
Who is the Lord? What is he like? He is true. He is noble and pure. He is right. He is altogether lovely. He is admirable. He is excellent. He is praiseworthy.
What do we do when thoughts of our kids, or our marriage, or our jobs are filled with anxiety? What do we do when it’s three o’clock in the morning and no matter how many times we flip over or how we arrange the covers, our anxious thoughts linger?
The Psalmist writes, “On my bed I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night” (Ps. 63:6).
The Lord is near– remember the Lord. Has he promised to take care of his children? Has he promised to work evil for good? Tell yourself the story– the gospel story. Your heavenly Father did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you. After all that will he now withhold something that you need (Rom. 8:32)? Read God’s word to remind yourself what God is like. He is good! Think on these things.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Melissa McDonald (@melissabmcd) and her husband Eric serve and disciple international students at The University of Iowa with their two daughters, Miriam and Annette. Melissa blogs at The Cross and the Kitchen Sink and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.