If you have ever worried or stressed about anything, this post is for you.
I know I can find myself weaving through bunny trails of thought on a number of stressful things.
What sorts of bills are coming up? What about that fight the other day? How will I get all the work done that needs to be finished by Friday?
The list goes on. I’m sure you can create your own personal list of worries that fill your mind. There are some that follow you everywhere and others that pop up only on occasion or due to circumstance.
Worry. Stress. Anxiety. They all have one thing in common. They seek to steal the peace that God promises us.
It is no coincidence that Paul starts with this. He is ending his letter to the Philippians where he writes to thank them and to strengthen them by showing the joy that comes from Christ.
Paul writes this letter from prison. It seems odd that he is telling them to rejoice, while he himself sits in a prison cell. And yet, as you read through Scripture, you see that Paul’s attitude is one of an eternal perspective. His joy does not come from his circumstances.
And with every scrawled word in this letter, he wants to share this piece of wisdom because it has given him the strength and joy to endure many hardships.
When we are struggling with worry or stress, the first thing we must do is rejoice in the Lord. This may look different for everyone.
Some of us rejoice in our words, others in our actions. But rejoicing always has to do with your attitude and your thoughts.
Take a look at your attitude the next time you are worried. Are you rejoicing in your own successes and circumstances or are you focused on the Lord’s will and love for you?
We have so much to rejoice about when we reflect on all that the Lord has done for us. I encourage you to cultivate a spirit of joy that will carry you through any hardship or trial.
Prayer, Petition, Thanksgiving
Paul clearly says, “Do not be anxious about anything”. But He doesn’t leave it at that. He goes on to show us how we are to be free from an anxious heart.
In everything, by prayer. When anxiety, worry or stress begin to tug at your heart and mind, stop and pray. Lift your worries up to the Lord. Lay them at His feet. He died on the cross so that we could have this gift. We have direct communication with God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with anxiety, we can rejoice in the fact that God hears our prayers. He knows our struggles and He wants us to bring them to Him.
When I think of a petition, I think of a piece of paper with a long line of numbers collecting signatures for a cause. A petition is a formal request to a cause.
When we are struggling with worry or anxiety, we are told to petition God. God wants to know our feelings, but He also wants to know our desires. When you bring your desires to God, remember to be open to His leading. But tell Him want you want. He is a loving Father and He wants to hear your requests.
We are do these two things with thanksgiving. We are to present our requests to God with a thankful heart. What does that look like?
A thankful heart allows us to be humble. When we reflect on all that God has done for us, our trust in Him will grow.
A thankful heart acknowledges Christ’s death on the cross as well as the answers to prayers we have already received. God wants to bless His children. Take a look at your life and first consider all of the blessings you have. When you start to do this, your petitions may begin to shift as you consider God’s working in your heart already.
What Are You Thinking About?
Finally, Paul lists exactly what we should be thinking about.
I love this section the most because when I am stressing, I often find that my thoughts are not focused on any one of the things listed, but on myself or my circumstances.
Whatever is true.
Whatever is noble.
Whatever is right.
Whatever is pure.
Whatever is lovely.
Whatever is admirable.
Anything excellent or praiseworthy.
This is where our mind should be.
The next time you are feeling anxious, worried or stressed, take a moment to consider what you are thinking about. What were you thinking about before the feeling began? What are you currently allowing to run through your mind? Does it match up with this list?
Paul ends with saying “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.”
Did you catch it? The promise: The God of peace will be with you.
It is a conditional statement. That the God of peace will be with you when you put these things into practice.
Our salvation is guaranteed. Our peace is not. Peace will come when we align our hearts and our minds with God.
I encourage you to memorize the list of the 8 attributes of where our thoughts should be.
The next time you are feeling anxious, check your thoughts and if they are not aligned with these, I would encourage you to change what you are thinking.
I find that memorizing Scripture and repeating it when I see that my thoughts are not aligned really helps me.
You can also reflect on God’s works in your life or in Scripture, God’s character and His love.
God wants you to have peace. He wants you to have freedom from anxiety. And with these directions from Paul, we have clear instruction as to how to find that peace.
What has helped you to discover the peace that transcends all understanding?
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