“Be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6a). We often read that Scripture and take it as a command. But how do you corral thoughts that have taken off like a wild stallion? Or squelch fear that rushes over you like the incoming tide?
My niece spoke of such anxiety when her family came down with COVID. To help her cope, a cousin sent links to calming music she might play on her cellphone, and she grabbed hold of the lifeline.
When she told me this story my first thought was that God had not been included in this situation. During an episode of great anxiety in my life the Holy Spirit directed me to follow the instructions in Philippians 4:6. So I began praying about everything, revealing all that was in my heart with gratitude, giving thanks to God for all He had done and would do.
As a result, I experienced Philippians 4:7—God’s peace, which is beyond understanding.
Therefore, when my niece told me how she had coped with anxiety I immediately thought it was a technique apart from God. I began to research God’s Word to see what it said about peace. My research confirmed we can have peace through prayer, but I could find no confirmation about music.
When I began to work on section four of the Bible study I am completing, which covers 1 Samuel chapter 16, I found my answer. Through this lesson the Lord spoke to me.
In 1 Samuel 16:14-17 the Spirit of the Lord departs from Saul and a tormenting spirit comes, filling him with depression and fear. To help him cope, his servants advise he find a good musician to play the harp when troubled by the tormenting spirit. The music would soothe him. In Hebrew the word for soothe means to be wide or spacious, breathe easily, or to be relieved.
Researchers have discovered how music can calm anxiety, wrote Mary Shannon, the author of the Bible study. “Brain waves begin to sync up with the rhythm of the music, creating mental states that coincide with the type of music played. With this knowledge, musicologists have created entire playlists designed to decrease your heart rate,” she wrote.1
In my own wisdom I limit God. The peace of God that passes understanding can be delivered any way that He wants for it is His. Because He knows my niece better than she knows herself He sent soothing music to take away her anxiety. I see how He met her need.
We often forget that God sees us. Therefore, we create long lists of things we must do to achieve the results we long for, such as peace. I am not discounting Scripture. We should learn it because Scripture is the very Word of God. It is alive and powerful, exposing our innermost thoughts and desires so God can address all our ways that don’t match His. [Heb. 4:12] But God is El Roi, The God Who Sees Me. This name is revealed in Genesis 16:13-14.
Author Ann Spangler writes: “El Roi, a God so watchful that he is said to note when even the smallest sparrow falls to the ground—this is the God who watches over you today, whether or not you recognize his presence. Aware that you may sometimes find yourself in desolate places, He is always near, helping you find a path through troubles, working out his plans for your future.”2
Whether or not we think to pray, God sees us, and is willing to provide what we need. Including music if that will fulfill a need for the peace that passes understanding.
Contemplate Your Ways:
1-In what ways have you limited God? How did He break out of those limits you placed upon Him?
2-How have you experienced the peace that passes understanding? What was your situation?
1- “Lose Control: The Way to Find Your Soul” by Mary Shannon Hoffpauir published by Abingdon Press.
2-“Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler published by Zondervan.