Worry. We know we shouldn’t do it as much as we do. But we do it anyhow.
Almost anytime the topic of worry comes up in conversation someone (usually with really good intentions) will toss Philippians 4:6-7 into the mix:
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.” (NIV)
Good verses. I believe them.
However…sometimes hearing them is a bit like someone telling you to not think about a pink gorilla. Go ahead. Give it a shot. Stop reading, close your eyes, and don’t think about a pink gorilla.
How’d that work out for you?
Now, multiply that times 10 (or 100) and that’s what it’s like to look into the face of all the uncertainty ahead and have someone say, “Hey, don’t be anxious about anything.”
What if I told you that God put four words in the Bible that actually make “not being anxious” a possibility?
Well…He did. And He didn’t hide them.
In fact, they are the four words that immediately precede the verses quoted above. Here they are:
The Lord is near.”
Those four words are a game-changer.
So much of our worrying happens because we forget this truth. Or more accurately – we forget to focus on it. We don’t consciously keep at the forefront of our thinking that the Lord is near.
When we recognize His presence, focus on His presence, meditate on His presence, and abide in His presence, worry fades.
Several years ago, I shared this principle at a local event and a friend of mine sent me an email the following week. It so perfectly illustrates the power of these four words that I asked her permission to put it in this post.
Even though she shares some painful things, she graciously allowed me to share it with you.
Thank you Deanna. The Lord is near you. Very near.
Just wanted to let you know that there were so many things I LOVED about your talk at Overlake. But the lightning bolt for me were those 4 words before “do not be anxious.”
I had a wonderful visit with my Uncle Willis on Saturday in Vancouver. He has stage 4 lung cancer and is in a care home now.
I shared with him the Phil 4:6-7 verse, then Uncle Willis exclaimed, “CLAIM IT”.
Ah, but Uncle Willis, do you know what the four words are BEFORE that verse?
It is “THE LORD IS NEAR.”
So I told Uncle Willis, that we should start that popular verse with “THE LORD IS NEAR…Do not be anxious.” By saying that the Lord is near, it takes us out of the equation. It’s not our action of not being anxious. We are not to be anxious BECAUSE the Lord is near. So when Uncle Willis is in the hospital, the Lord is near. When my husband and I don’t see eye to eye, the Lord is near. When my kids drive me nuts, the Lord is near. When I miss those who have gone before me, the Lord is near. When I think of my dad and his dementia challenges, the Lord is near. In my sorrow and grief, THE LORD IS NEAR.
2011 and now 2012 has been tough for my extended family. My dad’s brother passed away last May and then 3 weeks later my dad’s sister. And then another uncle died in Feb. and now my Uncle Willis has terminal cancer. And my dad’s health and quality of life is deteriorating. And…and…and…the Lord is near.
You have helped me greatly, GREATLY. Rather than judge God for the circumstances that I don’t like and understand. I need to judge the circumstances in light of His character. He is faithful. He is just. He understands my pain. He is near.
Thank you again for your words of encouragement.