Do you ever have moments, hours, or even days when your mind is troubled? In an earlier part of my life my mind might race over inconsequential things. It was as if I could feel my mind moving inside but I could not slow it. I have not felt that in years, but now I feel something different.
These last two days my mind has been troubled, not as a roaring engine, but as an agitated body of water. This is not the first time I have felt this. When some friends walked away from Christ, and when others seemed to follow, my mind was troubled. Perhaps you have felt similarly.
Paul had concern for his brethren, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28 ESV). His concern was not trivial, but was for their very souls (2 Corinthians 11:3). He was afraid that Christians would fall victim to the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5) and his efforts would be for not (Galatians 4:11).
Paul’s concern was not passing, but was present and seemingly painful, “My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19). He was not only concerned about Christians believing in Jesus, but also about them becoming like Jesus.
Perhaps having this concern for the brethren can be healthy, but only if we keep the totality of the picture in view.
The same inspired apostle who expresses his anxiety, also commands us to free ourselves of anxiety and open ourselves up to the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7). Did you read it? Good, now read it again, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Having a healthy concern for for the faithfulness of brethren is one thing, being consumed by fear is another. The God who loves us does not want our hearts to be disturbed, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14). With Christ’s example of suffering before us (1 Peter 2:19-24), our Christ-like response to turmoil can bring the gospel to light (1 Peter 3:15-18).
The way to acquire this untroubled mind is by giving over to God that which disquiets us. Paul points to prayer in Philippians 4:6, and Peter tells us to throw our anxieties upon God (1 Peter 5:7). This act of letting go of our troubles allows us to humbly trust in God instead of ourselves.
Paul urged that prayers be made for all people, “for kings and all who are in high positions” so that Christians may lead “peaceful and quiet” lives (1 Timothy 2:2). In this new year, my prayer is that God’s people will also have peaceful and quiet minds. Will you pray the same for me?