Anxiety and worry are some of the greatest signs of our times but God tells us not to worry, not to be anxious and not to be afraid. This is possible! The feeling of anxiousness or worry might sometimes overwhelm us and it helps to have some practical tools to know what to do when this happens. Philippians 4 gives us these clear steps to deal with anxiety.
Philippians 4:6 declares “Do not be anxious about anything.” Let’s just stop there. God is commanding us not to do something.
Remember: He is a good God. He knows what we can handle, what we can do and what we can’t. If He tells us not to do something, it is because He knows we are able to choose not be anxious.
Practically, for me, anxiety can come in two ways. In our emotions and in our thoughts. We can not always do something about the feeling or emotion immediately, but you can do something about your mind. You don’t have to think everything that falls into your head. God tells us here to STOP and think: What are we thinking?
Are you thinking thoughts of anxiety? Then don’t. Just stop. “DO NOT BE anxious”, the Bible says.
John 14 repeats this concept: “Do not LET your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.” So, you do have control over your own mind, and over your own thoughts. You have the ability to not LET your heart be troubled – but how? How do we do this? How do we stop worrying?
The next part of the verse is key. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
So, what is on your mind? What is worrying you? Take that as a sign that the situation needs prayer. Then take whatever bothers you and bring it before God. In all manners of praying. Basically just tell God about it. Tell Him what you feel, tell Him what you think, tell Him what bothers you, tell Him what’s going on and present it to Him. It’s like presenting your worry to Him on a platter and then letting Him take it away…
“with thanksgiving” is the part, for me, that gives the breakthrough. Because, to be honest you can pray about something… and pray about it… and pray about it …and pray about it. Basically replacing worry with praying over and over again. But we still worry. But if you do it with thanksgiving, then you place the focus on God and you say “God, I know that You will take care of this. I know that You are for me. I know that You can handle this.” Then you leave it with Him. You leave it with praise and you say “Yes, God, I know You can do this.”
This takes the focus off the worry, off the circumstances, and places it on our God who can handle anything and everything for us.
Then, what God promises us is “that the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And many times, we just have to pause a minute after really giving this thing over to God, to let that peace come. Don’t start thinking about the whole thing again. Just let that peace come, invite that peace in. And enjoy that God is handling it and that God is taking care of it and that He is in control.
After this wonderful peace comes into your heart. Brace yourself, because the very next moment that worrying thought will come back into your mind. Because when Satan has been overcome in one battle, he immediately starts another one. But take heart, God gives us the key to overcoming this as well.
He says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
So you have a responsibility to replace the thoughts of worry, the thoughts of anxiety with thoughts of good things. Thoughts of things that are noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. We can’t just hand things over to God and say “Ok, that’s it, but I have no responsibility in all this.” We do have to take up our responsibility. And each of us have to take our own thoughts captive, give it over to God and then replace it with something beautiful.
For me, just practically, I do that in a few ways – I put on worship music in the background, so I can focus my mind on the words which tells of God’s greatness, tells of His faithfulness, tells of His goodness. Another way I do this, is to take a memory verse. Something that declares God’s goodness or shows how He takes care of us or that He is for us and not against us. And each time that worrying thought comes, you start repeating that memory verse. The bonus is that you will start to learn Scripture, but it also starts to form a habit of going back to God’s Word to encourage yourself. And to start building faith that He is good and He is for you and that He is handling everything that you leave at His feet.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~ Written by Elmari Viljoen