Philippians 3&4; I Timothy 1&2
Who has never been worried or anxious about something? I know I have spent more than one sleepless night fearful of what lay ahead. My mom’s cancer diagnosis, dad’s loneliness after her death, a loved one’s rebellion, a troubled student at my school. I changed school districts early in my career and fretted about that decision for weeks.
Someone said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” It’s true. I can honestly say not one minute I spent worrying about any of these things accomplished anything good.
Paul tells the believers in Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (4:4) He reminds them the Lord is near, then says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.” (4:6&7)
I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say worry is a sin. But it steals the peace and becomes a wedge between me and the God of peace. It is a symptom of my heart’s condition and a clue that I don’t really trust him like I say I do.
So what do you do when the problems of life begin to mount up and you find yourself worrying about the future? Here is what Paul tells us:
1. PRAY. And not just a prayer that asks God for something. Pray with THANKSGIVING. Never lose sight of all the things you have to be thankful for, even in the midst of trying times.
2. THINK. Or maybe, change what you are thinking. As human beings we have the ability to control our minds. Use it. When I worry, my thoughts are consumed by the problem. I turn it over and over in my mind. I consider all the bad things that could happen. I toss and turn because I imagine all the possibilities. But Paul tells us to think about the following instead:
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, things that are excellent or praiseworthy. THIINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS. (taken from 4:8)
When worry starts to creep into your thoughts, give it to God, pray and thank him for your blessings, then change your thoughts to things that glorify God. The result, according to Philippians 4:7, is that God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. He will protect us from worry! Then in 4:9b, “And the God of peace will be with you”.
No worry there.
Dear God of Peace, thank you for wanting us to know your peace. Forgive us when we take hold of the reigns and worry about the future. May your children learn to pray about it all, thank you for your blessings, then change our thinking to things that encourage us and bring glory to you. Help us, Lord, to trust you. Really trust you with every detail of our lives. We praise you for peace in the midst of the storm.