I remember vividly when God taught me about not worrying. It was a normal devotional time where I was reading the Bible and praying but my mind was filled with worries that day. We were still a young church then and the future was uncertain. I was concern about many things. My mind would run off as I tried to pray. Eventually, I turned my Bible to Philippians 4:6-8.
This was exactly what I was trying to do. Yet after praying I found my mind still anxious. As I meditated on these verses, I had an important realisation. It had to do with where my mind was focused. As long as my mind was focused on my worries, there would be no peace.
The peace of God transcends understanding because it is supernatural.
If we use natural reasoning, we can’t receive the peace of God. The peace of God is the result of a mind that is focused on Jesus.
At this realisation, I began thinking about Jesus. A while later, I found my worries and anxious thoughts gone. My situation hadn’t changed but my mind was no longer occupied by them. Instead a deep peace filled my heart. To this day, when I am worried, I think about Jesus.
Our mind is given to us by God so that we can have understanding. It processes information, reflects, interprets, judges, evaluates and makes decisions. All these activities happen unceasingly, often at a subconscious level. But unless our mind has been trained through a relationship with God from a young age, it functions without much regard to God. The Bible calls this the “natural” or “worldly” mind. This by the way is why Christian parents are exhorted to train their child in God’s way while they are young (Proverbs 22:6 ).
The mind is wired to find the path of less resistance. This is the familiar pathway or pattern that we use the most. You will notice that when you are driving say from your office to your home, you can do it without much mental engagement. In fact, your mind often wander and you could even be day dreaming as you drive! You might also find yourself subconsciously driving home when you have a colleague in your car that you have to drop off! Your mind functions subconsciously on familiar pathway.
This is why many of us even after becoming a Christian for many years would slide back into the familiar pattern of the natural mind. Because we function subconsciously from the natural mind, the Bible tells us to “renew our mind” (Romans 12:2).
The natural mind has an inclination to focus on the negatives — what we don’t have, what is not right, why we are not good enough, what can go wrong. This tendency could be linked to our survival instinct after the fall of man.
We feel burdened and anxious. The responsibilities of life overwhelm us. Our body becomes tense and stressed, making us susceptible to sickness. Worrying drains us. But as long as our mind is stayed on our problems and fears, we will remain anxious. We can’t stop worrying.
Just recently, out of the blue, I caught myself worrying about how the current pandemic is affecting the church. As long as I function from my natural mind, I will remain anxious. But as so many of us know, worrying will not change the situation.
So I stilled my anxious mind and reminded myself that God is on his throne. I filled my mind with the thoughts of Jesus, prayed and laid my concerns at Jesus’ feet. I asked Him to lead me and bless me. Then I proceeded to do what I can do. Again the peace of God that is greater than my natural mind filled my heart.
What about you? I wonder if you find yourself anxious. Are you worried about what is happening and how it is impacting you? Perhaps something unexpected happened and worrying is keeping you up at night.
One of God’s name is Jehovah Shalom — the Lord is peace. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).
Jesus wants to be your peace.
He understands your worries. Turn your mind towards Jesus. Think about who He is, what He has done, how much He loves you. Pray with faith.
You can’t change your world by focusing on your worries. Worrying is like rocking a stationary chair. It uses your energy but gets you nowhere.
However, you can change your world if you shift your focus to Jesus. Pray and do your very best. Choose trust over worry. Not only will you experience God’s transcending peace, you will realise that there is no situation where God’s love cannot reach.