I have been thinking about worry lately. We have seen some examples of anxiety from the Apostle Paul in our Wednesday Bible study recently and I'm trying to reconcile his instruction in one place with his personal confessions in other places. At one level, these passages seem contradictory.
The first passage, the instruction regarding worry, is very well known:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5
(W)hen we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
In the first passage, the apostle urges us to find God’s deep peace by trading our anxiety with joyful, thankful prayer. In the second passage, it almost seems that Paul has been a nervous wreck regarding the Thessalonian Christians.
See also 2 Corinthians 11:28 where Paul says that he has to bear the pressure of anxiety for the churches daily (concern / anxiety is the same word as the anxiety in Philippians 4:6).
So what gives? Is worry always bad, or does Paul set the pattern for good worry?
I’ll give my take on how to reconcile these passages tomorrow.