Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The right method of dealing with anxieties, and maintaining peace of heart under them, is clearly and succinctly laid down by St. Paul in this precept. “Whatever may be your wishes on the subject which makes you anxious, refer them to God in prayer (using the simplest and most direct language), not asking Him absolutely to bring them about, which might be productive of anything but a happy result, but simply letting him know them, and begging Him to deal in the matter, not according to your short-sighted views, but as seems best to His wisdom and love. If prudence and caution dictate that anything should be done to avert the
evil you anticipate, do it, and then think no more of the subject. Thinking of it is utterly fruitless: “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” And fruitless thinking is just so much waste of that mental and spiritual energy, every atom of which you need for your spiritual progress. Deal with a fruitless anxiety as you would deal with an impure or a resentful motion of the heart. Shut the door on it at once, and with one or two short ejaculatory prayers, rouse the will and turn the thoughts in a different direction. The holy women on their road to Christ’s sepulchre anticipated a difficulty which threatened to baffle entirely their pious design. “Who shall roll us away the stone,” they said among themselves, “from the door of the sepulchre?” It turned out that they were troubled about nothing. When they marched up close to it, the difficulty had vanished. “When they looked,” says the Evangelist, “they saw that the stone was rolled away.” Take encouragement from their example. Go forward in your spiritual course with all the energy of your soul. Place the foreseen difficulties in the hand of God, and He shall remove them.
Those who indulge fretful feelings, either of anxiety or irritation, know not what an opening they thereby give to the devil in their hearts. “Fret not thyself,” says the Psalmist; “else shalt thou be moved to do evil.” And in entire harmony with this warning of the elder Scriptures is the precept of St. Paul against undue indulgence of anger: “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil.” Peace is the sentinel of the soul, which keeps the heart and mind of the Christian through Christ Jesus. So long as this sentinel is on guard and doing his duty, the castle of the soul is kept secure. But let the sentinel be removed, and the way is opened immediately for an attack upon the fortress. And our spiritual foes are vigilant, however much we may sleep. They are quick to observe an opportunity, and prompt to avail themselves of it. They rush upon the city at once in the absence of the sentinel, and do great mischief in a short time. In conclusion, be careful to maintain peace in the heart, if thou wouldst not only resist the devil, but also receive the guidance of God’s Spirit. That Spirit cannot make communications to a soul in a turbulent state, stormy with passion, rocked by anxiety, or fevered with indignation. The Lord is neither in the great and strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire; and not until these have subsided and passed away, can His still small voice be heard communing with man in the depths of his soul.
If our love were but more simple We should take Him at His word; And our lives would be all sunshine In the sweetness of our Lord.
O LORD, we beseech Thee to grant unto Thy people such a measure of Thy heavenly benediction and grace, that by the continuance of Thy clemency they may be delivered in every hour of need from the weakness of the flesh and the malice of the devil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.