As we continue this series on worshiping God without the distraction of negative emotions, Part 3 reminds us to look deeply into God’s Word. That is where you will find His peace that surpasses all understanding.
We’ve looked at how anxiety is a vague feeling about something that might happen. Many things in life can make us anxious if we allow them to. And when they do, we must stop and realize we are worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet. At that same moment, I encourage you to stop and turn your eyes away from the potential problem to the Lord. Afterall, the problem isn’t even there yet, but the Lord is always there with you!
God promised to strengthen and help us during challenging times when we rely on Him. Anxious thoughts only come to tear us down and make us weak, but these thoughts can be easily overcome when we stand firm on God’s Word in faith. As our Faithful Shepherd in Psalms 23, the Lord will safely guide us to green pastures, lead us beside still waters, and restore our souls.
Peace is one of the most important spiritual keys we’ve been given. Just as we saw in the previous section how faith counteracts fear, we now see that peace counteracts anxiety.
Each of us desire peace of mind, not anxious thoughts; A calm heart, not nervous agitation. To obtain these, we must learn to depend on God and His wisdom, and not depend on ourselves while focusing on our worries.
Peace is tranquility and freedom from disturbance. That is exactly what we need when anxiety starts creeping in–a quieting of our heart and mind. Meditating in God’s Word creates a mind shift, shifting our mind from the things of this world to the things of our Father’s world in heaven. He has given us and gifted us His divine truth, to empower us here ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
To live in peace, you must know who you are in Christ and know your value to God. Where anxiety exists you will eventually find identity crisis and low self-esteem. People who really know and believe that they are God’s covenant child won’t give in to anxiety or worry, because they know that they have a good Father who faithfully provides all the reassurance and guidance they need.
God has also given us the action step of being grateful for all we have, giving thanks in all things. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6)
1 Thess. 5:18 – “…in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Be sure to routinely thank God for what He’s already given you! This is a very important action step of gratitude in your daily life. Don’t sit around fretting or complaining. If you diligently search the Scriptures, you will easily discover the goodness of God. Begin today, profusely thanking Him for your life, health, job, family, friends, and many other things to be grateful for!
The Philippians 4 passage reveals yet another powerful benefit of not being anxious when we pray about each situation, and that is a protected heart and mind…. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)
God admonishes us to be grateful instead of fretful.
He instructs us to be prayerful instead of irritable.
He guides us through His Word into peace and tranquility.
He guards our anxious minds and fretful hearts with His peace.
We are cautioned in Ps. 131:1 concerning great matters in life: “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too profound for me.” Practically speaking, there are situations in life that are beyond our capacity to understand, that demand faith and trust in God; situations that we should not be concerned about because they are too profound for us. Whenever we concern ourselves with such matter, anxiety comes.
Truthfully, God has proven Himself faithful in the past, much more than we’ve been grateful for. I sincerely believe that ingratitude is a sin.
1 Chron. 29:14 – “…For all things come from You…”
One of our most well-known prayers comes from Psalm 23. Judy Booth gives us a fresh perspective about this psalm in a powerful prayer:
“The Lord is my peace, I shall not live in anxiety.
He puts me under His wing of comfort and
calms my spirit within me. He takes all my anxieties
on Himself and helps me to focus on Him.
Yes, though I walk through a time of grave
uncertainties and fierce anxieties, I will not fret –
for You are my peace. Your Word and Your presence
calm me now. You hold my uncertainties in the
palm of Your hand. You soothe my anxious mind;
You smooth my wrinkled brow. Surely serenity
and trust in You shall fill me all the days of my life.
And I shall keep my mind stayed on You forever.”
Friend, are you turning your cares into prayers? Here a simple prayer you can pray:
Thank You Holy Father for calming me in my time of need.
Thank You for all that You have provided for me in every area of my life.
Thank You for attentively listening as I confess my anxieties about such practical things as my job, financial needs, relationships, and repairs for my car.
Thank You that Your Word tells me that You are always with me, and that You faithfully provide for me. Therefore, I will turn all of my anxieties over to You.
My heart is full of gratitude for Your love and care for me.
In Christ’s name, Amen.
Because thanksgiving is a commandment to be obeyed, I believe the judgment for disobeying that commandment is anxiety. The moment you stop being grateful and appreciating what you already have is the moment those same things will become stressful to you.
No one [and no emotion] will be able to stand against you all the days of
your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
And as seen in John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Rom 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
James E. Ward Jr. is a pastor, author, and entrepreneur who speaks nationally and internationally on cultural and spiritual issues. James is pastor and founder of INSIGHT Church in the north Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL. You can catch his podcast ‘Cultural Conversations’ on Apple Itunes.