“The Lord is near.” (Philippians 2:5) He is not far off, but near to you, when you can see him and when you cannot. That’s our only hope. When you are thinking about something that has you churning with anxiety that is our only hope.
The day after an election finds people with mixed reactions. Disappointment. Elation. Shock. Relief. Numbness. Joy. Disbelief. Satisfaction. It’s an anxious time. Divisions deepen within our country. Rhetoric amps up as we look for someone, anyone to blame. There is a lot of fear as well as fear mongering. We easily absorb the uneasiness and distress. We personalize it and take it with us like a form of identification which periodically reappears as dread and harasses us without end. This is why we also have to absorb the holy words of Scriptures that cast out fear – “The Lord is near to you.”
One of the most common ways anxiety reveals itself is through conflict. We try to convince the other side of our position, often with emotion or blame. Arguments ensue, often feelings of hate arise and we inevitably end up moving further away from one another. Another divide.
Later in that same book, Paul tells Christ followers “Let your gentleness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5). Gentleness doesn’t mean weakness; to the contrary, only the strong can be gentle. The gentle choose to be kind, compassionate, and generous precisely because they are so confident in their strength that they don’t have to prove it. So how do we find such confidence? Only through the strength of the Lord who is near. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were known for our gentleness? Sadly, that’s not our reputation. But it can be, whenever you are ready to give up fear and anxiety.
And to experience that, we have to believe the Word: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, pray.” (Philippians 4:6) Prayer is where we consciously lay our fear and worry before the Lord. And when we pick them back up, in prayer we lay them down again. And the promise is: “The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.” This means that the peace of God stands like a watchman, guarding your heart against anxiety. But this peace is a grace, given through prayer. You don’t think or argue your way into it, and you don’t find it from an upturn in the Dow or election results. It’s found only in the outstretched arms of the Lord, who is near. That’s how we do the next day, and every day after.