Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Do not be anxious. Really? I am anxious! I feel anxiety about the devastation of lives and homes in Ukraine. I worry about a young woman in our church who has fought the cancer battle for over a year and is consumed with pain. My heart feels heavy when I think about racism, global warming, random shootings, and nuclear warfare . . . and on and on.
Then I saw the New York Times newsletter headline, “What’s the Best Way to Cope in an Anxious World? Do Something.” The author, Tara Parker-Pope, suggests, “One way to loosen the grip of anxiety is to help someone else.” Hmmm. What could I do? We are surrounded by people and organizations who need our help. There are countless ways to help those who are suffering, whether they live a world away or in your neighborhood. Visit Charity Navigator for a list of aid organizations. Yes, “doing something” can ease my anxiety.
And don’t forget that you can offer “aid” of a different sort – the human touch of compassion to a friend who needs a kind word, an offer of assistance or simply a listening ear. Author Ann Lamont suggests that you call a friend, “and tell them that you hate everyone and all of life, and they will be glad you called. They felt that way for three days and you helped them pull out of it by making them laugh or a cup of tea. You took them for a walk, or to Target.”
Anxious? Do something. But what should I do? Isaiah 58:10 tells us what to do: “If you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” Wait a minute. Does God mean that when we are anxious—maybe going through a divorce, or grieving the loss of a special person, or just learned that a loved one has cancer—that God’s advice is to feed the hungry and meet the needs of the afflicted? Yep. Back to where we started.
Anxious? God seems to be saying, “Forget yourself, for a little while, and focus on helping others who are suffering.”
The above is God’s action plan when I am being consumed with anxiety. I can use my anxiety as a call to action. Hopefully, it will help you also to not be anxious.