It feels like ‘Working Through Anxiety Week’ at our place. God’s on a roll.
The kids, and I … after lights out … most nights this week … each one in turn, have been looking in the bible by torchlight, for what God says we are to do about anxiety.
We’ve discovered that God promises us peace. But we’ve also discovered that we actually have jobs to do when we are anxious, so that, God can do what he promises. Otherwise nothing changes.
Philippians 4:6-8 says,
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.
Our first job is not to be anxious. My youngest daughter looked at me with unbelief and bewilderment and more hopeless tears, the first time I read that part, “Do not be anxious about anything”. So, I explained. We have a choice, right at the beginning, when the very first anxious thought hits us, we must choose whether we embrace it and become “anxious” or we do our second job.
Our second job is to pray. When we pray we petition God for the situation, for the need, for the person, for whatever we are tempted to be anxious about. We give it up, we release it to the Lord, we put it in his hands, make it his responsibility for action, not ours.
Our third job is to make our requests, my kids found this hard. To actually put in words their requests, rather than their complaints. The complaints came easily, the anxiety came easily, but the requests; what they really wanted; was not easy, it made them worry all over again.
Luckily there is a fairly straight forward formula. The verse in Philippians says we do it “with thanksgiving.” So, instead of a long list of “wants” from us, we thank God for what he will do. We don’t even need to know what we are asking for. We just need to trust that God has a better idea, than we could ever imagine, and we need to thank him for it.
One of the kids wanted to know, were they actually allowed to think of a request? I encouraged them, of course they were, if they knew what it was that was really best, and sometimes we do, we just know what to pray. But, God wants to take the pressure off. He doesn’t want us to think we have to come up with all the answers, or we might start to worry or be anxious again. It’s like a circle that way.
Our fourth job is to let God send us his peace. Often we miss this step. We capture the thought, fire off our prayer and send off our request with thanks, only to move on and find it all comes back tomorrow. When we wait for the Lord, when we are still, and know that he is God, we can almost feel him gently wiping the stress off our brow and the warmth of his love flooding our heart with assurance. We can see him in our minds’ eye putting on the armour we need, our helmet and our breastplate to guard our hearts and mind.
After the waiting comes our fifth and final job, the re-filling of our minds. Our heart will be full of God’s love, because it is his perfect love that drives out the fear we began with, and left us with peace. We must now focus our thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things
The kids and I laugh at this point because when I was a kid, my Dad used to ask me to think about something lovely if I was scared in my bed, and I could never think of anything except “grapes”! So I tell my kids, if you can’t think of anything, you can think about grapes!
With one of the kids this week, we went so far as to name something true, something noble, something right, something pure, something lovely, something admirable and something praiseworthy. Then they had list of 7 wonders to marvel at, God’s perfect number.
I want to encourage you to be empowered by Philippians 4:6-8 today, just as my kids (and I) have been this week. Put it into practice. Be blessed as you do the jobs God has given you to do when you are tempted to become anxious.
- Do not be anxious
- pray and petition, give it over
- request with thanks for what He will do
- wait for His peace
- refill your mind with wonder
The next two verses, Philippians 4:9-10 say,
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.
We do our part so that God may fulfil his promises to us. He promises peace, to guard our heart and mind, and he promises Himself. He is the God of peace and He will be with you!
If you are struggling with doubt, you may like to read the post Stretch Out Your Hand for more encouragement on stepping into the promises of God.
Be blessed, be encouraged.
Lots of Love,
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