2022-3-13 “Peace, from Anxiety”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                                   Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                                    March 13, 2022

Peace, from Anxiety”
Philippians 4:6-7

You know all the symptoms. You lie awake at night, or awaken at the least sound, or awaken too early and cannot return to sleep. You cannot eat very much—and then you struggle to keep down the little you ate. You know the unremitting cold, clammy feeling in your hands and feet—those hands and feet that shake both uncontrollably and constantly. These are the symptoms, among others, of anxiety—a condition almost endemic to our time.

Anxiety and worry fit together hand and glove—and our worries multiply without apparent limit. Jesus distills our worries, in Matthew 6:25-34, to this question, “What shall we eat, or drink, or wear?” More generally, we ask, if things be well for us just now, “What’s going to happen?” Alas, if things be ill for us just now, we ask, “What’s going to happen next?” Fundamentally, we’re anxious about the future. Happily, God deals with this in His Word—in the very text before us today. Let us give ear once again to the reading and proclamation of God’s Word in this place.


Remember, from last week, that Paul, the human author of these words, is both an old man (of about sixty years), and a veteran Christian (of about twenty-five years). Again, as we saw last week, Paul has been through a lot since meeting the Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road. We note again both his former sufferings (1 Corinthians 11:24-28) and his current imprisonment.1 It appears, in view of all of this, that the Apostle Paul, humanly speaking, is well-equipped to address today’s problem—best among the best-equipped who ever lived.

Yet it is the Lord that speaks to us through Paul’s Spirit-led words. Let us hear Him—and may He enable the same. Note the single command in our text: Be not anxious. The Greek verb underlying our English translation (merimnao [merimnaw]) expresses anxious concern over possible dangers or misfortunes.2 We may crack at this, even in view of Paul’s long and deep experience with Jesus, “Easy for you to say!” Yet, when we have viewed both the means by which we comply with this command and the promise affixed to our compliance, the path to riddance of anxiety seems less hard to tread.

The means of compliance, simply, is this: Make your requests known to God. Doubtless God knows those requests you would ask of him, yet—as last week—He would have them from you. We make our requests unto God by prayer and supplication. By prayer we address God in general terms. The underlying word here rendered supplication (Greek deesis [dehsiV]) may be rendered more woodenly by plea—with the connotation of urgency. Hence, we may address God—indeed, as occasion demands, we must—with respectful, holy urgency.

Furthermore, we do this concerning everything. God tells us, in His Word, “…but in everything….” We are to bring every matter, in every situation, unto the throne of grace. After all, there is no concern so large that God cannot handle it—and there is no concerning so small that God does not notice it. Bring everything to God, and then notice what He does in us.

Note the precious promise attached to this command, and the means to compliance with it: the peace of God. This deep-set inner tranquility, and cessation of hostilities both inner and outer, comes either by God stilling the storm in your life or by Him stilling your soul while the storm rages about. Jesus give His peace, a peace not like the so-called peace the world offers (John 14:27)—which is largely anodynes (to dull pain) and amnesiacs (to erase memory). Jesus’ peace embraces our pain, even as it soothes it, and it causes us to recall fully His goodness to us through most distressing circumstances. This peace, moreover, surpasses all understanding. We neither can comprehend nor can explain it fully, but we can enjoy it—deeply—and otherwise profit from it. Finally, this peace from God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It keeps us safe both from the anxious assaults of the evil one and from any other of his nefarious designs. This is a precious promise indeed—and look how far we have come from the anxiety at the outset of today’s sermon.

Hope has a future focus: it is a confident expectation of future good. Anxiety, also, has a future focus—but with a different expectation. Anxiety is a fear of future ill, with all the physical, emotional, and mental woes attending. However, we are better equipped now to face anxiety than we were twenty minutes ago. Remember what to do, when anxious, and forget not. Pray, with urgency, about everything—especially about the thing provoking anxiety in your life. Pray unto Him Who holds all things, including the future, in His hands. Remember that He both foreknows what will happen and foreordains whatever will come to pass—and know for a fact that He, somehow, already is there. Now, with all these facts and exhortations now in hand, I, ministering in the Name of Christ, call you, one and all, to receive the precious peace of God—and to cherish it deeply.


1 Paul, during this imprisonment at Rome (ca. A. D. 60-62), wrote the so-called Prison Epistles—to wit, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

2 Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).