“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
– Philippians 4:6
Have you ever lost sleep worrying about something? Of course you have! At some time or another all of us have lost sleep worrying about our health, our marriage, our job, our debt, or any of a hundred different things. And sadly, worry robs us of much more than just sleep. Worry robs us of our health, erodes our faith and, most tragically, strips us of our joy in the Lord. Thankfully, Philippians 4:4-9 reveals God’s antidote to worry.
In Philippians 4:4, the Apostle Paul unveils a bold command that seems impossible to follow: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Consider the implications of this command. When you’ve just left your spouse’s graveside, rejoice in the Lord. When you’ve just received an eviction notice, rejoice in the Lord. When you’ve just been laid off and have no other household income, rejoice in the Lord. This call to rejoice at all times and in all circumstances—be they good, bad or ugly—sounds impossible. But with God…all things are possible.
Yes, when our joy is solidly grounded in our great and awesome God, we truly can rejoice in all circumstances and at all times. You see, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is just as good in our valleys as He is on our mountaintops. He is just as faithful when we’re sick as when we’re healthy. He’s just as merciful, gracious, loving and strong when our circumstances stink as when they’re all rosy. So, if our joy is firmly grounded in God, we can rejoice no matter what comes our way.
The reason we worry so much is because our minds are consumed with thoughts of stuff instead of being consumed by thoughts of God. Simply put: If you have a small view of God, you will inevitably struggle with a big amount of anxiety and worry. But if you have a big view of God and flood your mind every day with the pure truth from His Word, you will inevitably deal with very little worry. It boils down to this: Big and frequent thoughts of God lead to little worry. But small and infrequent thoughts of God lead to much worry.
And with that in mind, the Apostle Paul reveals God’s three specific antidotes to worry in verses 6-9.
Antidote #1: Right praying. In verse 6, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” When our anxiety starts to rise, our first response should be to turn to God in prayer. And according to Paul, our prayers should contain three parts: prayer, petition and thanksgiving. “Prayer” refers to adoration and worship. When we pray, we should spend some time worshipping God for His holiness, His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His justice and His power. Next, we should “petition” Him for our specific needs. As a loving Father, God loves to meet our needs and answer our prayers. Finally, we should “thank” God for answering our prayers in the past and even for His future answers to our prayer.
Antidote #2: Right thinking. One of the reasons you and I get so stressed out is because we don’t think right. We are very quick to view the glass as half empty but slow to see it as half full. In verse 8, Paul urges us to flood our thoughts with what is true—not with what is untrue or speculative. Paul asks us to think about what is noble and right, not what is disgraceful and sinful. He instructs us to fill our thoughts with the things of God that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Honestly, when we spend a few moments considering this marvelous list of anxiety-busting thoughts, we’re quickly reminded of how undisciplined and off track our thoughts tend to be.
Antidote #3: Right living. You and I can’t expect to be free of worry if we pray and think right but don’t live right. The pursuit of God’s peace is both inward and outward. Paul writes in verse 9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” As we worship God with our thoughts, we must worship Him with our deeds. As we thank Him in our prayers, we must also thank Him with our lives. As our thoughts are consumed with God-honoring thoughts that are noble, right, pure and admirable, our decisions must be noble, right, pure and admirable.
Because our great and awesome God loves us, He has graciously supplied us with these three antidotes to worry. The Lord never intended for us to carry the weight of the world’s problems on our shoulders. That’s Jesus’s job, not ours. So, when we realize that our thoughts are being flooded with many worries, it’s time to reach for God’s worry-busting remedies. We must pray right, think right and live right. And God’s peace that surpasses all understanding will come rushing in.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. Join us for Good Friday at 6 pm and for Easter Sunday at 7 am or 10 am. Questions? Visit www.fccvv.com .