“I have learned that track doesn’t define me. My faith defines me. I’m running because I have been blessed with a gift,” said Olympic track star Allyson Felix.
Next week Felix, a 2012 Olympic Champion and 3 time world champion, will compete in Rio in the women’s 400M event. However, Felix, told the LA Times last week that “faith leads my life.” She said that there is a “bigger picture” and “a greater purpose” to life.”
Allyson Felix has had to endure various personal setbacks, physical injuries and the death of her beloved grandfather. But she says “I try not to focus on the pressure surrounding me.” She shared a Bible passage that provides her “strength and comfort.”
I love Philippians 4:6-7 that says, “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.”
I don’t know the religious affiliation of Allyson Felix, but know she’s right about looking to the Word for encouragement instead of worrying during stressful times in life.
The Bible often warns God’s people against worry, fear and anxiety. The word “anxious” means “to be troubled with cares.” Paul is not condemning prudent forethought, or thoughtful planning, but rather needless worry and undue anxiety.
There is an old adage that says, “worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere!” In fact, worry is debilitating. It troubles your mind. Agitates your emotions. Disquiets your spirit. And drains your energy.
Worry impedes our relationship with God, weakens our faith, and gives birth to doubt that dampens our hope. Anxiety diminishes our focus and distracts us from spiritual priorities. In fact, brooding can lead us down a dark road of discouragement, depression, and finally despair.
The answer to worry? In a word. Prayer! In the Philippian passage Paul said to pray. About what? Everything!
Pray, not just a simple petition, but with supplication. That means with urgency. With emotion. With insistence. We can “come boldly to the throne of grace” with our requests, concerns, and pressing problems.
Also an antidote to our worries, is thanksgiving. Counting our blessings. Appreciating how God has provided for us and blessed us in so many ways.
When we pray, we are promised peace. Thayer says the word peace means “tranquility, exemption from rage and havoc; harmony, concord, security, safety and felicity.” In the Bible it refers to “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.”
When our relationship with God is right, we will enjoy peace. Furthermore, peace guards the heart. Protects the soul. Soothes the spirit. And calms the mind. Peace protects us from fear, worry, and anxiety.
Divine peace is beyond our comprehension. Just like the love of God surpasses the length, breadth, depth and width of our human understanding (Eph. 3:14-19), so does His peace. It transcends human insight and experience.
Puritan author Thomas Watson was right when he wrote, “If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”
As we run the Christian race, let us, like Allyson, be lead by faith, learn from God’s Word, and live free from anxiety as we prayerfully pursue the peace of God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman