Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
Anxiety or worry causes you to go over something in your mind again and again. You can't turn it off. It may be something real or perceived, but it is something that is bothering you a great deal. This was the case with Hannah. Her story is told in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11.
Hannah was married to Elkanah, and she was one of two wives. Peninnah, the other wife, had given Elkanah children, but Hannah was unable to conceive.
Each year, they would travel to the Tabernacle to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, and each year Hannah would end up in tears when Peninnah would taunt her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Every time Elkanah would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children and would only give one choice portion to Hannah, Peninnah laughed at her.
This particular year, Hannah again was crying, but decided to pray. She wept bitterly as she talked to God about her circumstance. As she was weeping, she made a vow to God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord all his days.
Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk and confronted her. She confessed her discouragement and sorrow at not having a child and told him she was not drunk. "In that case," Eli said, "go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him." (1:17).
Notice Hannah's response. She thanked Eli and then went back and began to eat, and she was no longer sad (1:18). The peace of God which surpassed all understanding had taken the place of her sorrow. She believed God would answer. She didn't know when or how, but it didn't matter anymore. She was at peace.
This verse (Philippians 4:6-7) is God's promise to you. He wants you to have peace that passes all understanding; a peace that He alone can give. God desires to guard your heart and mind. That means the worrying stops; the anxiety disappears. Whether it's something you can't seem to stop thinking about it or it's a situation that has you deeply grieved, God wants you to talk to Him about it. He wants you to tell Him what you want Him to do and He wants you to leave it with Him. He then promises to give you peace just like He did Hannah.
Only God can turn your sorrow into joy as you pray. He alone can still your thoughts as you feel one way when you start talking to Him...anxious, sad, or bitter and then come out with a completely different outlook!
A practical suggestion that I heard from Tony Evans on his radio show, The Alternative, is to take a shoe box and turn it into a "worry" box. When you find yourself starting to worry about something, write down what has you feeling anxious and what you are asking God to do and put it into the box. As you place it in the shoebox, pray and give it to God. If the worry resurfaces, visualize it in the box and remind yourself it now belongs to God. Wait for the peace to return. Connect the peace that God gives you with the fact that you gave it to Him and you presented your request to Him.
From time to time, you may feel anxious about your loved one who has not yet returned to the Lord. Different things happen at various times that will cause you to have to choose between making a request to God or giving in to anxiety and worry. Something may happen that will cause you to grieve. Think of the years that Hannah was grieving, but didn't pray; she just wept. She had no peace. Then remind yourself of the peace Hannah had after she prayed. She was no longer sad. God did that for her even before she received the answer to her prayer and God will do that for you! You can be like birds who are resting in the midst of the storm!