anxiety, Biblical Counseling, Hope, Paul, peace, Philippi, Philippians, Philippians 4:6, Prayer, Resurrection
(This is the second part of a lesson on anxiety).
COUNSELING PROBLEMS AND BIBLICAL CHANGE
BIBLICAL SOLUTIONS FOR ANXIETY, PART TWO
WHEN THE BIBLE DOESN’T WORK
The “go-to” text for anxiety is found in Philippians 4:6
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
The faithful and trusting Christian prays, Dear God take away my fear and fix my trouble. He then lays down to sleep, but only tosses and turns throughout the evening. Come the morning, he feels tired and anxious and complains that somehow the promise of Philippians 4:6 “doesn’t work.”
- A Serious Charge
Now it would be a serious charge if a promise of God truly failed. However, as we shall see, using Philippians 4:6 like a magic-charm does a grave disservice to Scripture and has needlessly troubled the faith of many broken Christians.
The impulse to trust the promise is correct. Trouble in not in the trust or in the promise. The trouble stands in the misunderstanding of the promise.
- A Mistaken Charge
Let’s consider our problem. First, note something about the text. It should shows up in the fourth chapter, which means it was preceded by three chapters. It is in the sixth verse of the four chapters. It is followed by 15 verses in the fourth chapter.
Let’s say you bought an assemble-yourself piece of furniture from Ikea. You lay the materials out on the floor. You take out the manual, turn to the fourth page, go down a bit on the page, read one line of instruction, perform that step, close the book and step back. You wanted a desk, but instead you have a plastic clip attached to a piece of wood. You complain that the instructions “don’t work”.
When we pluck a single verse from an entire letter, we should not be surprised if it does not “work”. The trouble is even greater: The verse concerns the matter of “prayer”. The Scripture says a great deal of prayer which help inform our understanding of this command. As we should know, “prayer” entails more than a mere recitation of words.