Philippians 4:4-7 gives us a guide on how to rule over anxiety!
Have you ever grown anxious over being anxious?
If you struggle with spiritual anxiety at any level, Philippians 4:6, "...do not be anxious about anything," can surely produce...well...more anxiety. We might grow anxious thinking about our anxiety as a sin. Or, our anxiety heightens when we try to just stop being anxious and find no help. Or, our anxiety multiplies when we consider living anxiously for the rest of our lives. Wow, I'm growing anxious just thinking about being anxious (funny, not funny : ) ). When we read Philippians 4:6, we know it is true but stopping spiritual anxiety requires more than a decision to stop. We often just read vs. 6 without investigating the context. However, in the verses around this command, we find, at least, five Anxiety Killers. Let's investigate what these Anxiety Killers are and use them to guide our prayer today! Anxiety Killer #1: Rejoicing in the Lord (Vs. 4, twice). What does this mean? Answer: We are to be cheerful about the supremacy of Jesus. Jesus created all things, sustains all things, directs all things, redeems all things, and is our refuge from all things. Our situation, our concern is not outside of Jesus' power. So, rather than focusing our minds and hearts on situations we cannot control, we rejoice that The One In Control is Infinitely Good and All-Powerful. Can you offer up your circumstance today to your loving, Sovereign Savior? Can you ask Him to guide you? Anxiety Killer #2: Be reasonable (Vs. 5) "Reasonableness" doesn't mean "weak" or "doormat" or "wimp". In fact, it connotes the idea of giving someone the benefit of the doubt or reading the best intentions into the actions of others or compromising my thoughts or actions in areas of preference. In other words, in the anxious moments of life, we are to read the best intentions into what God is doing or allowing. We refuse to blame God, accuse Him of not loving us, or harboring thoughts that God made a mistake. When we are tempted to slide down the rabbit hole of spiritual anxiety, we step back, remember God is sovereign and Good, and be measured in our response. Doesn't God possess the right to direct us where He wills? Don't I possess the loving responsibility to compromise my thoughts on how my life should unfold...and trust Him? Have you blamed God or others for your situation? Can you step back for a moment and recognize that something bigger and better might be going on? What if your situation changed so that you could escape anxiety but it ended up hurting you in the long run or thwarting some great work of God in your life or others? Can we trust Him? Talk to Him about this. Anxiety Killer #3: The Lord is "At Hand" (vs. 5) Jesus is near! Actually, he is right here, right now. Whether you have told him or not, He knows the situations you are facing and the fear in your heart. When a child gets scared, who do they run to? Their loved one but only if that Loved One is near. Jesus cares and He is with you through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's work is to convict, encourage, teach, illuminate, comfort...as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Yet, do we rely on Him? Do we lean hard into Jesus and His Spirit when times are ripe with anxiety? How would Jesus sitting next to you right now, in flesh and blood, change your view of your life...and your anxiety level? Truth is, He is this near. Can you ask God to aid you in remembering His nearness and allow His nearness to transform your life? Anxiety Killer #4: Talking to Jesus It helps to talk things through, doesn't it??? I love to share good news but I NEED to talk through "bad" news. Every relationship expert tells us that communication is key to a vibrant, healthy, and intimate relationship. And guess what??? God wants to hear from you. Even though He knows everything, He enjoys and values the relationship-building power of prayer. In addition, as Max Tucker has said before, "God doesn't do apart from prayer what He has promised to do in and through prayer." It's Amazing: just talking life through with God has the ability to reduce and kill the power of spiritual anxiety. And, if that weren't amazing enough, The Friend we are talking to has the power to do something about our situation and the ability to calm our hearts from the inside out. Just talk to Jesus, share your heart with Him now. Anxiety Killer #5: Give Thanks (Vs. 6) An important component of our prayer is Thanksgiving! Giving Thanks is the worshipful act of recognizing the good that God has done and is doing. Thanksgiving usually falls into one of two categories: 1) Things God has done to provide for me (physically and spiritually); 2) Things God has done to protect me (physically and spiritually). The act of giving thanks, keeps discontentment, anxiety, and a complaining spirit at bay. How? Because we are recognizing that though life is hard and unnerving, God has always provided and protected me. Why? Because that's just who He is...and He will keep being Himself. Think back over past struggles where God has revealed Himself and protected, provided for you! Offer this to Him! If we do embrace these Divine Tools, then anxiety will continue to grow and consume us. However, rejoicing in Christ's power, being reasonable, remembering God is near, talking to Our Friend, and giving thanks are all ways God has provided for us to experience His peace. And, only the peace that God produces has the power to be so complete and so thorough that it can be described as being "beyond understanding"(vs. 7a). When we deploy these Anxiety Killers, we are using God's tools to guard our hearts and minds against anxiety (Vs. 7a). So, don't just "Stop" being spiritually anxious, kill anxiety and deploy God's gracious gift of peace.