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Do Not Be Anxious – By Pastor/Elder Greg Mattson

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“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.”

                                                                                              Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything” … now that’s easier said than done.  The world appears to be in a state of chaos and, as a result, people have turned to self-medications like alcohol, eating, and drugs to calm the storm.  We, being followers of Christ, are told to treat anxiety and stress in a much different way, by going to prayer and earnestly bringing our requests to God and then in return we are given peace which from an earthly perspective is incomprehensible.

Personally, I have to admit that, as a physician, anxiety would often enter in when faced with medical emergencies.  Being in the ER, awaiting an ambulance’s arrival with a critically injured or ill patient at 3am, would immediately provoke anxiety.  I was well aware that a wrong decision could have drastic consequences and as a result the burden was heavy.  I would pray when I felt the anxiety reaching neck level but, in that moment, I never felt that peace that surpasses all understanding.  I readily admitted that I was not God and therefore had no control over life and death but somehow still I was intertwined in the story and the ultimate outcome, which caused me stress.  I knew my weaknesses and didn’t want those flaws to lead to a bad outcome but, by the grace of God, I worked as a doc for almost 30 years and never suffered a breakdown or took up drinking.  However, my kids will say I came home crabby!

Anxiety and worry are something we all deal with.  There are some things which cause minor, short-lived anxiety like a job interview or forgetting your wallet when getting gas. And then there are others that provoke all-consuming and ongoing anxiety, like the loss of a loved one, a divorce or a life-threatening medical diagnosis.

How are we to deal with stress and worry?  The best example we have as Christ followers is Jesus himself in the garden of Gethsemane stating “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine”.  He brought his request via prayer to the Father rather than focusing on himself and then went to the cross to suffer for you and I so that we may be declared righteous.  He was given the peace of God which the unbelieving world will never know and which allowed him to endure a brutal death.

Lastly, when I was in a practice in Woodstock Illinois before I came to Osceola, my partner had sweatshirts made that stated “Healthcare from Womb to Tomb.”  I found it funny but true.  I have delivered hundreds of babies and been at the bedside of many families as their loved ones took their last breaths.  Let me note that there is a huge difference in people that are believers reaching the end-of-life vs nonbelievers.  Tim Keller who recently passed away after a 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer stated “The way you look at God–the way you look at everything–changes when you realize time is limited and you are mortal.”

My prayer for New Life is that we continue to be joyful even in the midst of a storm knowing that we have a God who loves us unconditionally, who will never forsake us, and who is preparing a place for us so that we can be with him forever!  That is where the ultimate peace that passes all understanding is found.

                                                                                                         In Christ, greg.


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