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Paul had Anxiety
We often think of Paul as an apostle super hero. Well, I have thought of him in this way. I am in awe of him writing from prison about being content in all things (whether well fed or hungry, whether in want or in need). I was reading Philippians the other day, and I came across a verse that stopped me in my tracks…. “be glad and I may have less anxiety” (Philippians 2:28 in part). Here is the entire verse in context:
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. But I think it is necessary to send back to you, Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow working and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me." -Philippians 2:19-30
What really resonates with me is the fact that Paul, Timothy, and Ephaphroditus, are all highly concerned about each other and the people to whom Paul is writing. Paul’s anxiety will be lessened when he knows that the people have received Ephaphroditus, and they have all been encouraged. I realize that Paul’s anxiety is not fueled by a selfish obsession with himself and his own well being. His anxiety exists because he wants his fellow soldier and believers in Christ to be glad. I think about being a mother and how I have more anxiety for my children than I do for myself. There are countless situations with my children that I “wish it could be me rather than them.” I have said often that I would much rather endure the pain or the loss than have my children experience it. Paul was like a father to all those with whom he served. His anxiety would be lessened when he knew that the people were glad and encouraged by one another in Christ.
While I was stopped in my tracks when I came across Paul discussing that he had anxiety… I have learned that his anxiety was not the type of anxiety that people go see a psychiatrist for today. The uncontrollable anxiety that wraps itself around the neck and chest of those who suffer from it is fueled by fear (not faith), and is usually focused on themselves, their well being, and their misfortune. Paul’s anxiety was fueled by a healthy concern for those whom loved God and one another. I am confident when I say that God’s way of being freed from an unhealthy anxiety is to engage in a holy concern for others.
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her recently founded Share & Company Publishing House http://seymourkristina.wix.