NOTE: Welcome to our first Special Edition Daily Article responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
I will publish an article like this each weekday afternoon as we look at a breaking news story in the context of biblical encouragements to “fear not.”
In these days, it is vital that we fight fear with faith. I hope these Special Editions will be a source of biblical hope for you.
President Trump and the coronavirus task force held another press conference today as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the US.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the White House was asking Congress to approve a massive emergency rescue package to help businesses and taxpayers. This after stocks fell yesterday in the worst day for the market since 1987’s “Black Monday.” The New York Times reports, “Not since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has a crisis enveloped so much of the economy so quickly.“
If you’re like most Americans, you are worried not just about the global economy or the national outlook but about your personal finances and retirement accounts.
But we’re not the first followers of Jesus to have such fears.
How to avoid the ‘prison of anxiety’
Paul founded the Philippian church in the face of great opposition. He and Silas were beaten and imprisoned before they were released and asked to leave the city (Acts 16:6–40). The congregation they left faced the threat of similar political and religious persecution. Many must have wondered about their financial security and their futures.
To them, the apostle offered these transformational words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Do not be anxious” could be translated, “Be worried about absolutely nothing.” There are no exceptions here.
Instead, we are to pray about “everything” with “supplication” (specific requests) and “thanksgiving” (expressions of gratitude). We are to tell God our needs, as explicitly as possible, while thanking him for hearing us and answering us in whatever way is best.
When we do, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). We could render this promise, “The peace of God, which understanding cannot produce or comprehend, will protect your emotions and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
The next time worry about your finances or anything else creeps into your feelings and thoughts, obey verse 6 and claim verse 7.
Max Lucado offers these comments on our text: “One would think Christians would be exempt from anxiety, but we are not. It’s enough to make us wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in Philippians 4:6, ‘Be anxious for nothing.’
“Is that what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense—implying an ongoing state . . . as if to say Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst. The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.”
Rather than the prison of anxiety, let’s choose the promise of abundant grace in Christ.
What fear do you need to entrust to your Father today?