“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:5-7).
As you know, the above are well-known and well-loved verses intended to impart comfort to those of us flailing in the grip of anxiety and fear. You may wonder how such dreadful feelings as anxiety and fear could be a blessing to anyone. “Really?” you ask.
The Bible positively affirms that creation includes more that just the material world. This is hard to grasp considering the overall materialistic outlook of the 21st century world. Our excessively material outlook is in large part an overreaction to the medieval superstitions. In the Dark Ages, everything that happened on earth had a spiritual cause; milk spoiled because an evil spirit visited you, and walking under a ladder would disrupt the trinity, giving bad luck. Today, the intellectual consensus is that all things can be explained on a strictly physical level and therefore spiritual things do not exist.
The past couple of decades in brain research has yielded amazing and unexpected discoveries. Using MRI technology, brain researchers have better refined our understanding of the brain’s structure as well as how the brain responds to various stimuli. For example, to better understand how the brain of a smoker works, scientists would tell the test subjects to think about cigarettes and observe how the brain responds through MRI. All good research requires not only test subjects but also a control group. In such studies, the control group would be told to empty their minds and think of nothing. What we accidentally discovered is that the human brain does not default to think about nothing. Our “default setting” is to think about the future.