We live in an anxious age. In fact, many studies over the past several years have shown that anxiety is “snowballing” in the United States.
In fact, in August of 2018, Barnes & Noble announced a surge in the sale of books about anxiety...a 25% jump from the previous year.
Many of us know the battle with worry and anxiety far too well. I know I do. I have personally battled anxiety fairly significantly from the time I was in the 5thgrade. This cancer journey with my son has caused this battle to resurface in some new, unexpected and unpleasant ways.
My guess is that you also battle worry and anxiety. At least on some level. Perhaps you are someone who often feels paralyzed by your anxiety.
Here’s what I know. We live in a broken, unpredictable world where there are always new things to worry about. New fears and anxieties to consume us, to steal our focus and drown our joy.
What can we do about it? Because at times it seems as though nothing can be done.
The truth is, we must fight. Not with our own power and might but by the power and might of God.
Let me offer three specific ways you and I must trust in the Lord in this ever-present fight against worry and anxiety. These are three things I try to preach to myself daily. I encourage you to do the same:
#1: Trust in God’s Character (who He is).
Matt Chandler is right when he says, “There is not a square inch of creation in which God isn't present and sovereign. If we could get out of our heads the idea that the future is something God simply knows and get into our heads the idea that the future is a place where God already is, that he doesn't just know about the past and see the present and know about the future, but that he stands outside of time and reigns over all of it sovereignly, what would we have to be anxious about?”
Only God can truly secure and sustain our lives. He alone is worthy of our deepest trust.
This is why Jesus says in Luke 12:22-34 (take a moment and read it) that we don’t need to be consumed with worry and anxiety about our deepest needs being met. God, who is a perfect Father, is totally capable of meeting our needs and totally committed to our best in Christ. He exhorts us to trust in God’s character.
In those times when worry and anxiety begin to creep in, we must remember:
The Lord is totally wise. He knows our deepest needs even better than we do.
He is totally trustworthy. He never lies to us, cheats us, or tricks us.
He is totally powerful. He perfectly cares for us and provides for us.
He is totally merciful. His love for us and commitment to our best in Christ doesn’t falter even when we fail in our commitment to Christ.
This is our God. This is why we can and must trust in His character. In who He is.
#2: Daily drown your worries in prayer.
God wants you to have true peace and peace often comes through prayer. In fact, it is through prayer that the Lord puts to death our anxiety.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Instead of worrying, what are we supposed to do? The Lord wants us to replace worrying with praying. It is that simple.
We don’t do nothing. We don’t just sit around and tell ourselves “don’t worry, you shouldn’t worry, it’s bad to worry.” No, we run to God and we pray. We really pray. We cry out to Him in faith-filled, desperate prayer.
Everything in your life is of concern to your Heavenly Father. Everything.
The big and the small. Where to move, who to marry, what job to get, your kids, even the fears you battle with daily. He cares about it all. He is concerned with your life. He wants you to come to Him with anything and everything.
This is why verse 6 says we should pray “with thanksgiving” because God hears and He cares. It is in seeking the very presence of God through prayer that we find peace that passes our understanding. That our worries and anxieties are removed from us and placed upon the Lord, where they should be.
In prayer we are transformed. In prayer we find hope and joy. In prayer, the Holy Spirit of God replaces our fear and worry with His peace.
We see this in verse 7 of Philippians 4, which reads, “And the peace of God, which surpasses (transcends or passes) all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace is the result of our pursuit of God in prayer. Paul is saying it is the “peace” of God Almighty that guards us in the battle against anxiety. Because God is sovereign and in control, as Christians, we can entrust all of our difficulties to Him. He is the One who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all His ways.
This is my prayer for you today. That you will experience incredible, supernatural peace that can only come from God.
Cling to Philippians 4:6-7… “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.”
May the Lord help us to worry about nothing and to pray about everything!
#3: Think about What You Think About.
Stay in Philippians 4 and look at the next verse, verse 8. There is good reason that verse 8 follows verses 6–7. In verses 6–7, we are told to drown our worries in prayer, and in verse 8, we are told to replace anxious thoughts by saturating our minds with godly thoughts.
In verse 8, Paul tells us what to think about, to fill our minds with, instead of worrying…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Read this verse slowly. Think about each phrase.
We are being challenged to think about what we think about. Each of these words represents the ways in which God wants us to think.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
How do we renew our minds in such a way that we are not consumed with worry and anxiety? We put into practice Philippians 4:8…
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Do you control your thoughts or do your thoughts control you?
This is an important question we each need to regularly and honestly think about and answer. I say this in love, but as long as your thoughts control you, you will be enslaved to worry and anxiety. The same is true for me.
I am reminding myself of this truth everyday as I journey with my son through his battle with cancer. I must be intentional with my thoughts. More than that, I must control my thoughts through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a daily fight. But it is a fight that can be won by the grace of God. God says so.
The same is true for you.
In this fight against worry and anxiety,
Trust in God’s Character, trust in who He is.
Run to the Lord, drowning your anxieties in faith-filled, dependent prayer over and over and over again.
Think about what you think about, saturating your mind in…
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Don’t let worry and anxiety steal your joy and peace in the Lord.
By God’s grace and power through His Word and His Spirit,
May you know and enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.