Ever had an anxious day? Ever had a season of life where you are extra stressed and pressured? Sure you have. Few people are immune to anxiety and worry, so how do you deal with your anxiety? Just like any weighty question, God’s Word gives the authoritative answer.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 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.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
We live in a broken, messed up, fallen world. Things are not as they should be. And yet, we can (and should) rejoice in the Lord. If you have read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, you will know it has a happy, upbeat tone to it. Even though Paul was in prison and the Philippian believers were being persecuted for their faith, they could still rejoice. The same is true for us. No matter our circumstances, we can still rejoice and praise the Lord. Even though most of the time we can’t control our circumstances, we can control our response. And the Bible says that we are to rejoice and be glad, even when life is hard (James 1:2-4).
Paul continues, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything….let your requests be made known to God.” That sounds good in theory, but is it really possible? It is pretty much impossible to avoid all anxiety, but we can greatly reduce stress and anxiety by giving everything over to God. Yes, everything.
All too often we try to deal with things on our own. We rely on our own resources and our own wisdom. We forget that the Creator of the universe can manage the affairs of our lives far better than we can. Christians must humble themselves before God, acknowledging our great need for Him. When we do that, the power of God is unleashed in our lives. There is nothing too big for God to handle. The key is to take everything to the Lord in prayer.
When we actually do this, it is remarkable how the peace of God floods our lives. Paul calls it a peace “which surpasses all understanding.” Those times when you should be stressed out and anxious like crazy, God gives you peace, joy, and tranquility.
Another key is to remember God’s nature and character. If you are a child of God, then that means God cares for you. He loves you more than you will ever know. The Bible says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). When you know that the God of this universe cares for you, it is easy to take your burdens and anxieties to him. Trying to deal with them on your own becomes much less attractive.
Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). How many times in life do we worry about things that we really shouldn’t? Food and clothing are essential needs of life, yet Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about those things. Why? Because our Heavenly Father cares for us.
Most Western Christians are not worried about food and clothing needs. Most have more than enough to live on. In reality, we often worry about lesser things that we really shouldn’t worry about at all. If God the Father can take care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, how much more is he able to care for you (Matthew 6:25-34)?
These are heady times. As a nation, we are politically divided. There are wars and rumors of wars around the world. For the first time in many decades, life expectancy is decreasing. And today there is a morality being embraced by our culture that would have horrified our forefathers. There are plenty of reasons why you could be anxious. But if you are a true child of God, then you don’t have to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6). God has given you all the tools you need to live in these chaotic times. Most importantly, he has given you the gift of himself, and the peace that only he can provide.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Amen!