A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

By Kristin Abrahams

Philippians 4:6
“The Lord is Near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Do not be anxious about anything? Tell your requests to God with thanksgiving? The Lord is near? Peace that surpasses ALL understanding?   In the height of my anxiety, these words felt hollow and fruitless. I once told a dear friend, “I understand the ANXIETY that surpasses all understanding….surpassing peace is harder to feel or even understand.” My anxiety used to be crippling- panic attacks, sleepless nights, a mind run amuck with worse case scenarios of harm or danger to my family and children.  Anxiety was an ugly three headed monster that I could not escape from. No matter how I tried to fight it off, it would wash over me and leave me powerless in its wake.  My anxiety hasn’t completely gone away. In fact, with all of our current uncertainty due to Coronavirus, it has reared its ugly head a few times.   However, what was once a terrifying monster that controlled my thoughts and emotions is now more of a distraction- an annoying gnat.

With Covid-19, economic uncertainty, fearfulness over our family and friends contracting this virus, anxiety has once again resurfaced for many of my friends, my clients and family.  People are Facebooking for helpful tips and tricks to reclaim sleep. What are we all asking for?  A PEACE That SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING…. How can we respond to our feelings of anxiety and walk confidently aligned with this verse seared in our minds and hearts?

Over several years of trying to get a grip on this, I begged God to help me understand why I struggled so heavily with this… Over time, God has revealed some helpful responses to me:

TRUST THAT ANXIETY IS NOT YOUR ENEMY: We live in a world that runs from pain. But like any good doctor will tell you, pain is trying to communicate to you that something in your body is broken or sick.  Anxiety is similar, it is trying to communicate something powerful to you about you, your family, or this world. It becomes the ugly three headed monster when we try to silence its call. What we resist will persist…… Instead of resisting your anxiety, what would it look like to walk alongside it and listen to what it has to say. Like anyone trying to get a word in edgewise- they only get louder when it feels it is being silenced… anxiety does the same- when you listen to it, its impact softens.  

ABIDE IN GOD’S WORD:  I go back to Paul’s letter to the Philippians about the peace that surpasses all understanding (while suffering with great physical pain), about giving thanks (while he was in prison), about Christ guarding his heart and mind (as he was isolated and alone)… Paul abided daily with the Lord.  

Let’s face it, you now have time to do this! Pick up your Bible and start reading! For those of you who have never done this, here are a few recommendations:

  • Download or Buy Jesus Calling- Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. It has a daily 1-minute devotional that is easy to read and understand.
  • Start by reading a few verses each day in the New Testament section of the bible – my top three new testament books are James, John and 1 John. But you can’t go wrong with any of the books….
  • Read a proverb each day… there are 31 proverbs in the Bible. Read your daily proverb.
  • FUN FACT- did you know that there are 366 verses on fear and anxiety in the Bible…one for every day including leap year!

CHANGE YOUR SCENERY:  When anxiety likes to visit during the day, I like to take walks with it or exercise … Sometimes I garden- lately, due to Covid- anxiety and I will mow the lawn together… But, most times I know I need to change my scenery.

Even at night – when anxiety rudely comes knocking on my door- I try not to deal with it in my bed. I go to the living room and make a cup of tea, journal, or walk and check on my kids.  I like to pray during this time and even talk out loud (quietly)…. Once I have given anxiety a time to unload, I find I can go back to sleep again. On those extremely difficult nights, putting on white noise, or waves or simply listening to a sermon from some of my favorite churches help my mind find rest.

SERVE SOMEONE ELSE: My anxiety likes for me to hyper focus on myself and the areas in my life that I can’t control. Finding a way to serve someone else redirects my attentions off of myself and allows me to bless and care for someone who God has placed on my heart. Lately, this has looked like texting words of encouragement, writing letters, making care packages, and praying for others. I have friends who grocery shop for our elderly or run errands for our immune suppressed members.  I am part of a group of women who are doing a “Secret Santa” (we call it Corona Claus) where we support our local hometown business owners by gifting each other!

FIND YOUR PEOPLE!: With all our social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine, my “people” help me navigate the heaviness of my emotions during this time! We text  and talk almost daily and find laughter in the silly and often stupid memes, a reworded cover song, talking gifs etc. ...In the middle of our funny anecdotes we also text and talk about our anxiety and our fears. We utilize the Zoom app to see each other’s faces on the computer screen. And we do this often! If you don’t have people….find them! Friends, relatives, and neighbors all need people. You can even set up a virtual family reunion using the Zoom app…

If isolation is your constant companion, join us at Faith Bible Church for virtual re|engage(marriage ministry) on Wednesday night, regeneration (addiction and recovery on Monday night) or Free 2B (relational connectivity on Tuesday night)

Go to www.faithbibleonline.org and you can find out how to join these groups under our Care and support Ministries….It is so important to have people to download with during this time! If you need help finding your people, we are here to help!

Finally, Paul tells us not to be anxious…..Because the truth is that we will be.  His very statement tells us so! This brings me comfort knowing that God expected us to struggle with anxiety and fear. And we have the opportunity to do something glorious with it in our lives- just as Paul has done!

My prayer for you today is that you do feel that peace that surpasses all understanding. Claim that for your lives dear friends and know that our God will Guard our Hearts and minds as we seek Him.

Isaiah 43:18-19   Matthew 6:25-34
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