“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells the Philippians church IF they will replace anxiety with prayer and thankfulness, THEN God’s peace will guard their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
As someone who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety, my first thought (honestly) as I read these verses were, “if only it were this simple.” Now, before you gasp in shock, allow me to elaborate. The Bible never said faith is simple.
I believe there are two types of anxiety. The first is based on circumstances. The second is a physical/mental illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Both should be addressed with prayer and Thanksgiving as Paul proclaims, but the prayers are very different.
When anxiety is the result of circumstances our prayers implore God to move on our behalf to resolve the circumstance. Our faith rests in knowing “He will work all things together for good, to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)
When anxiety is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, our approach is different. In this situation our prayer and supplication is for God’s healing. Our faith rests in His promise(s) of healing. “I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.”
Jeremiah 33:6(b) NKJV
Sadly, I’ve read articles by well meaning Christians who criticize other believers who suffer with mental illness. Brothers and sisters, people who deal with emotional distress do not need judgmental stigma. We, of all people, should provide a place of refuge for the hurting. There is enough stigma in the secular world. Instead, we must become a people who lead them to “Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Ephesians 3:20 NKJV
If you had a Christian friend who was diagnosed with cancer or heart disease you would earnestly seek God for their healing. Until we treat victims of mental illness the same way we will continue to alienate those who suffer in shame and silence.
You may be surprised to learn that in the United States someone commits suicide every 15 minutes. Equally alarming is the fact that Christians commit suicide at the same rate as non-believers.
I realize this is not your typical message on Philippians 4:6-7, but I pray it will open your eyes to the need among believers to recognize the validity of this issue and the need to respond with compassion and empathy. You could save a life.
Lord, I thank You that you ARE able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think. I pray for my brothers and sisters in the world who suffer with mental illness. Father, I ask You to heal their minds and bless them with an abundance of Your peace, which surpasses all understanding. Help us Lord to renew our minds through the power of Your Word.
Father I also pray for a greater awareness in the body of Christ about how to minister to those dealing with emotional illness. Help us to show the same compassion as we do to those who suffer physical illness. Help us not to trivialize their pain. Thank You for an increase in Godly therapists who are able to address this problem with a faith-based perspective.
Break through the stigma of mental illness so Your children can find freedom to ask for and receive help.
In the mighty name of Jesus. AMEN