A study out of the University of Toronto found that those who have a belief in God exhibit significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of the brain when they make a mistake. The ACC is the portion of the brain that modifies behavior when stimulated by the presence of anxiety. Decreased activity in the ACC is consistent with decreased anxiety and was found among those who have a belief in God.
While the study confirmed a calming effect of faith in God, the researchers did not attempt to answer the question regarding why this might be the case. Paul gives us a clue in the above verse by telling the Philippians that they should take every concern and present it to God. This alleviates our anxiety first of all because we have someone to take our concerns to. We don’t have to face our problems and mistakes all alone.
Second, we know that God loves us in spite of our many imperfections. There is no need to become anxious when our imperfections show themselves through our mistakes.
Third, we believe in the complete sovereignty of God who has full control of our lives. The God who loves us and is in complete control is going to work things out in such a way that is best for us.
We will encounter patients that are difficult to manage and challenging to us as physicians. In the midst of these cases, we can follow the instructions of Paul to remind ourselves of these great truths. Paul tells us to pray in every situation. This simple act of praying reminds us of God’s love and that He is in control.
And when we pray with thanksgiving, we are expressing our faith that God will do whatever is best in that situation. We may not know exactly what’s going to happen, but we can be sure that God will bring about an ultimate good, therefore, there is no need to be anxious.
Prayer: Lord, I need you to remind me that I am not the one in full control of every situation…You are. Help me to quickly pass my worries and concerns to You and trust that You will have your way.