Have No Anxiety

In his letter to the Philippians (4:6), Paul writes “Don’t be anxious about anything” (CEB). That phrase has always irritated the heck out of me. I don’t want to be anxious, but I am, and simply telling me not to be anxious has never before helped much. But I’ve been slowly moving toward a better understanding of this passage, and so when I read the following in a daily devotional from Frederick Buechner, it not only made sense but rang true.

He [Paul, writing to the Philippians] does not deny that the worst things will happen finally to all of us, … He does not try to minimize them. He does not try to explain them away as God’s will or God’s judgment or God’s method of testing our spiritual fiber. He simply tells the Philippians that in spite of them—even in the thick of them—they are to keep in constant touch with the One who unimaginably transcends the worst things as he also unimaginably transcends the best.

… He does not promise them that … they will be delivered from the worst things any more than Jesus himself was delivered from them. What he promises them instead is that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The worst things will surely happen no matter what—that is to be understood—but beyond all our power to understand, he writes, we will have peace both in heart and in mind. We are as sure to be in trouble as the sparks fly upward, but we will also be “in Christ,” as he puts it. Ultimately not even sorrow, loss, death can get at us there.

That is the sense in which he dares say without risk of occasioning ironic laughter, “Have no anxiety about anything.” — Frederick Buechner [1]

In the end, we all suffer, we all grieve, we all die, but through it all, God is with us. When it comes down to it, that is enough to see us and those we love through life, through death, and into life everlasting.

I’ve cut the devotional down quite a bit in an attempt to avoid copyright infringement. I encourage you to read the whole thing here: https://goo.gl/2uWueW.

[1] Frederick Buechner, “Anxiety,” in Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 22-24.