Consider the following scenario. It’s been a great morning. Feeling energetic, you’ve already accomplished several things on your to-do list. Plus your boss complimented you on an important project. You feel happy and at peace.
Then you notice that you have an e-mail from your child’s school, the kind that informs you of his latest grades. Opening it, you note with distress that he’s just gotten an F on a test. You get a little jolt of adrenaline. Why didn’t he study harder? He never listens. Everything you’ve tried to do to help him has failed. Last week he got a C- and now it’s an F. What if he has to be held back? You doubt he’ll ever make it to college. No one will hire him if he doesn’t have a degree. He’s going to be poor for the rest of his life.
What has just happened? You have gone from zero to sixty in the space of seconds. Starting with a bit of bad news about Johnnie’s grades, you now have him living in poverty for the remainder of his earthly life, despite the fact that he’s only twelve years old. One of the problems with anxiety is that it accelerates our fears, taking us to places that don’t yet exist and presenting us with problems we don’t need to solve—like Johnnie’s future homelessness.
Picture anxiety as a kind of laminate spreading across your brain and locking you inside your head. Pinging back and forth, your anxious thoughts accelerate, making it hard to focus on anything else. Then picture something else, a word from God forming in your mind: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, niv).
So you direct your thoughts away from Johnnie’s bleak future and toward the Lord himself, calling to mind the ways he’s helped you in the past and thanking him for them. Lingering over God’s faithfulness, you then ask for help in dealing with the present situation, trusting in his guidance, which will come in God’s good time. That is the way toward peace.