October 15, 2023
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. Finally,
brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is
pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there
is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- Philippians 4:6-8
"Do not be anxious about anything"
To be anxious is to worry. I think we have a natural tendency to worry. After all, there are many things that we could worry about: the future, our health, our family, our finances, current events. Merriam-Webster defines worry as "mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated." We let our imaginations run wild with different scenarios of how we think things might turn out. But - as it turns out, many things that we anticipate (and worry about) never come to pass anyway. And many situations end up working themselves out just fine. But during the "waiting process" we spend too much time and energy worrying and stressing ourselves out - over nothing.
Have you ever stopped to consider that we can control our thoughts? Our thought life is very important to God and He has given us the ability to choose what we think about. God has created us with a free will and He wants us to choose wisely. God tells us to make the choice to obey Him and control our thought life. "Do not be anxious about anything" is a command that we are to obey. When worry starts to set in your mind, change your mind and instead think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Here, Paul tells us what we should do if we find ourselves beginning to worry about something - we should pray about it. This should be our first reaction if we can't get worrisome thoughts out of our heads. We should "give it to God". I Peter 5:7 tells us that we should cast all our anxiety on God, because He cares for us. Instead of dwelling on our problems, we should dwell on God, who offers solutions to our problems, the strength to endure, comfort, provision, healing.
Another way we can combat worry, is to build our faith. What is faith? According to Hebrews 11: 1 - "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I like to think of faith simply as trust in God. The apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians (5:7) that we are to walk by faith and not by sight. That is, we should live our lives in a way that demonstrates our trust in God - we should keep a faithful, joyful attitude, regardless of our circumstances. But how do we build faith? Romans 10: 17 says: "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." In other words, we build our faith by reading and studying the Bible. Notice it says faith
comes by hearing - not heard. Actually, it says hearing and hearing. Faith does not come because you once heard. Faith grows by continuous exposure to the word of God. You cannot put your trust in someone that you do not know. God reveals Himself through His word. If we stay grounded in His word, we will get to know God more and more, and that will enable us to put our full trust in Him. Ifwe do not stay grounded in God's word, it's much easier for us to fall into worry.
Now consider this -worry is based on fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. II Timothy tells us that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." We are to use our sound minds and choose faith over fear. We should have the attitude of the psalmist who said (Psalm 56: 11) "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid."
God is our source for everything we need. Our faith in Him should outweigh and dispel any of our fears or worries. I am not denying the fact that we will go through hardships in life. Jesus even told us so-in John 16:33 Jesus said "These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Did you catch this? Jesus said "in Me you may have peace." This takes us right back to today's reading from Philippians:
"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."
The peace of God cannot co-exist with a worried mind.
When bad circumstances come your way, remember this from Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." God has a way of making things work out for our benefit in the end.
Remember who God is - our provider, our healer, our shepherd, our source of peace. We are to put our full trust in Him and live in His peace.
Jesus said in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
So - Don't worry, trust God and live in His peace.