Updated: Apr 1
Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (NKJV)
It is interesting to consider this scripture in light of the obvious anxiety surrounding the coronavirus and the mandate to socially distance ourselves from others. Sometimes the Word of God is difficult to understand when we read scriptures that “appear” to conflict with our emotional experiences. After all, experiencing distress in our natural bodies when our sense of normalcy has been significantly altered seems to be the norm. How are we supposed to be “anxious for nothing” when our natural eyes and our physical bodies tell us otherwise?
Paul is emphasizing that we are to be “anxious for nothing” rather than having the normal, adaptive emotional experience known as “anxiety.” Being anxious refers to a tendency to focus your attention exclusively on future threat and failing to consider other options, such as having the ability to cope with negative events. In other words, being “anxious” is a pattern that involves thoughts of future threat, physical sensations in the body that involve strong arousal, and behaviors that involve avoidance, worry, or escape.
Experiencing anxiety, on the other hand, is intended to prepare us to effectively manage future threat by problem solving accordingly. For example, hearing the mandate that we are to engage in social distancing due to the potential danger of the coronavirus will likely trigger anxiety. Using wisdom and abiding by the suggested CDC guidelines is a useful way to respond to anxiety in this case. On the other hand, hearing the mandate that we are to engage in social distancing due to the potential danger of the coronavirus and letting this lead to worry, sleep disruption, and difficulty concentrating is “being anxious.”
The remainder of this scripture instructs us to combat an anxious mindset by letting our request be made known to God through prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. In other words, we have to take effective action and receive what God has provided through the blood of Jesus. Though God knows the things that we have need of even before we ask (Matthew 6:8),
we have to approach God with thanksgiving, knowing that he has provided freedom from being anxious through recognizing that Jesus died for everything in this present evil age (Galatians 1:4). Through prayer (sincerely praying), supplication (a type of prayer that involves the humble request and a physical surrender such as kneeling down in surrender while praying), and thanksgiving (thanking God that he has already provided you with freedom in the spirit) will allow you to walk in the confidence of being anxious for nothing.