In late March of 2020, unemployment claims in the US surged by 3.28 million—the highest number ever recorded in a single week and more than quadruple the previous record of 695,000 claims in October 1982.
A week after that historic high, the numbers climbed even higher, to 6.65 million unemployment claims.
For perspective: the US saw barely 200,000 unemployment claims just three weeks prior to the first jump.
As of this writing, economists at the Federal Reserve estimate that a total of 47 million people could lose their jobs due to repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s a 32.1 percent unemployment rate.
For comparison, the highest rate of unemployment in the US was 24.9 percent in 1933—the Great Depression.
If you’re like most Americans, you are worried not just about the global economy or the national outlook but about your personal finances and retirement accounts.
But we’re not the first followers of Jesus to have such fears.
Paul founded the Philippian church in the face of great opposition. He and Silas were beaten and imprisoned before they were released and asked to leave the city (Acts 16:6–40). The congregation they left faced the threat of similar political and religious persecution. Many must have wondered about their financial security and their futures.
To them, the apostle offered these transformational words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Do not be anxious” could be translated, “Be worried about absolutely nothing.” There are no exceptions here.
Instead, we are to pray about “everything” with “supplication” (specific requests) and “thanksgiving” (expressions of gratitude). We are to tell God our needs, as explicitly as possible, while thanking him for hearing us and answering us in whatever way is best.
When we do, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). We could render this promise, “The peace of God, which understanding cannot produce or comprehend, will protect your emotions and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
The next time worry about your finances or anything else creeps into your feelings and thoughts, obey verse 6 and claim verse 7.
Max Lucado offers these comments on our text: “One would think Christians would be exempt from anxiety, but we are not. It’s enough to make us wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in Philippians 4:6, ‘Be anxious for nothing.’
“Is that what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense—implying an ongoing state . . . as if to say Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst. The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.”
Rather than the prison of anxiety, let’s choose the promise of abundant grace in Christ.
What fear do you need to entrust to your Father today?