Anxiety. Who among us has not become at least somewhat anxious as the economy seems to be in a state of freefall? Yet Paul says, “I should like you to be free from all anxieties.”
Notice where Paul first goes to address anxiety: married life. It’s as if Paul were saying, “If you are married well, with husband focusing on pleasing his wife, and wife focusing on pleasing her husband, then all will be well.”
How wonderful it is to see a husband and wife say, even in the threat of losing a job, “We’ll be alright because we’ll face it together.”
How different that is from one spouse’s blaming the other, or one spouse’s reaction causing great anxiety in the other.
“I should like you to be free from all anxieties,” Paul says. He goes on the recommend celibacy as a way to pour your energy into pleasing the Lord. However the Lord shows you a route to live without anxiety, you can be sure that freedom from anxiety comes from living within the will of God.
When we’re outside the will of God is when we get anxious.
Be aware, though, that there are many unclean spirits running around, seeking to ruin our peace. Scripture calls unclean spirits what we today might call illness, addictions or disorders. These too can rob our peace and drive us into anxiety.
An evil spirit that is especially adept at stealing our peace is deceit. I often advise this to kids in confession when they have confessed telling lies: be careful because if lying becomes a habit, we eventually lose the ability to tell the difference between a lie and the truth. Then when some difficult truth comes along, we tell more and more lies, and eventually we anesthetize ourselves from some painful truth by some addiction.
Even if we don’t get into some addictive behavior, the father of lies can steal our peace and leave us anxious. For instance, in these uncertain times, we can get into this line of thought: “I’m going to lose my job.” Which can lead to: “I won’t find another job.” Which leads to catastrophizing: “We’ll lose our home and won’t be able to provide for our family.” As these thoughts increase the anxiety increases. That’s when we make bad decisions and that makes our anxieties even worse. Gone is our inner peace and gone is a couple’s ability to handle this together.
Jesus did say, you know, “When you come to know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
And what is that truth? That: you are a beloved child of God and that “not a hair of your head goes uncounted” by your loving Father. “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” This truth is the most constant refrain in all 4 gospels: “Be not afraid.”
So, yes, Paul says it very, very well: “I should like you to be free from all anxieties.”