As human beings we were not designed to have to deal with stress. God created mankind for a worry free environment in the Garden of Eden. Adam was made to work the Garden and walk with God in the cool of the day in a totally stress free environment.
It was not until the fall in Genesis 3 that stress and anxiety entered into mankind. Worry and stress come out in our bodies in tangible physical symptoms. Everyone is different. For me, when I let myself stress over things my upper back and shoulders knot up and I can get some pretty strong headaches.
Stress has been scientifically proven to be one of the leading causes of all sorts of sickness and disease.
Scriptural Antidote to Anxiety
Fortunately the Bible has some great guidance when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Here’s what Paul told us.
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.— Philippians 4:6-7
Paul tells us not to be anxious. What is anxiety? Worry.
Really worrying is meditating on the negative, what can go wrong. It’s one big giant what-if game. Worry keeps you from getting back to sleep in the middle of the night because your mind is spinning on all the negative possibilities.
For those of you who don’t know, my wife Lisa was a veterinary technician for 20+ years. (Because she knows about the insides of animals it means some of our conversations can get pretty gross at times. Often at dinner time. Think about it.) But she says worrying is behaving like a cow.
￼Cows are ruminants. Or as the Bible says, they “chew the cud.” They literally bring their food back up into their mouths after they’ve eaten it to chew on it some more. (I know, yuck, right?)
Don’t Take Ownership of Negative Thoughts
That’s what we do when we worry. We have a negative thought. OK. It happens. But then we take ownership of that thought and start going through all the possibilities.
Maybe you’ve got a problem at work. Or maybe you’re out of work and looking for a job but haven’t put as much time into your job search as maybe you could have. (Maybe in your heart you’ve kind of given up!)
Then you have a thought: I should have worked on my resume some more and filled out some more applications this week instead of hanging out with the guys and going to those social things in the evenings.
Paul says that’s where it should stop.
But so many times we take that one thought and run with it. Our thoughts go something like this.
We’ve got enough money to make it through a bit longer. But what if we get an unexpected bill? What if the car breaks down? How can I go to interviews without a car? If I can’t go on interviews how will I get a job? Who will hire someone who doesn’t even have a car? If I don’t get a job we’ll be evicted from our place. If the car breaks down we’ll lose the house for sure. Or what if one of us gets sick? We don’t have insurance so how will we pay for it? We’re doomed! I’ll never find work. How will we make it? I don’t even know if I’m saved!
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But how many times have we done exactly that?
￼Paul says don’t do that. Don’t let your mind go there. Stop it!
Be. Anxious. For. Nothing.
but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
Try Prayer Instead of Worrying
Here’s how it should go instead.
You have a thought: I should have worked on my resume some more and filled out some more applications this week instead of hanging out with the guys and going to those social things in the evenings.
Then you stop. And you pray.
Father, I feel like I messed up. I should have worked on my resume some more and filled out some applications so I wouldn’t be stressed about this job thing. Honestly I am a little stressed about it. But I thank you because you work everything together for my good because you have called me according to your purpose. Even when I mess up you have my back. And you’re right. Even though I could see the time this week with my friends a waste, you did have me ministering to those folks while we were hanging out. You care about your people and you care about my friends. So you had me encourage them with your word. I know tomorrow is going to be a great day. Thank you for the good night’s sleep I’m going to have now.
That’s a whole lot better than staying up half the night worrying.
Above Your Pay Grade
Look at what Paul says to do instead of worrying. In fact, let’s look at how the New Living Translation puts verse 6:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
￼To me Paul is saying that worry is “above our pay grade,” so to speak. It’s not our job to worry. We’re supposed to kick that up to the boss so he can deal with it.
How many in here have ever worked for someone else? Did you ever come across anything in your work that really needed to be dealt with by your boss?
That’s exactly what Paul is saying to do with our worries. When we hold onto worry and anxiety we are doing something we were never meant to do. Our human bodies were never designed to cary stress.
We’re supposed to pass all that on to God and let him deal with all that junk.
Here’s what the Greek word that is translated anxious means according to Strong’s:
- to be anxious
- to be troubled with cares
- to care for, look out for ( a thing)
- caring or providing for
- to seek to promote one’s interests
That’s the problem when we worry. We get focused on ourselves instead of on God.
Where is your focus?
When you find yourself all sucked into worry and anxiety, know this: you are nearly always worried about yourself in whatever situation you are stressed about.
Not only is worry usually sparked by an over emphasis of self-interest, but that inward self focus gets magnified the more we worry too.
Paul gives us the antidote to worry.
Not Anxious But Peaceful
Let me ask you, what is the opposite of anxiety according to this passage? Peace.
When we pray, instead of worry we bring the peace of God into our souls – into our minds, our will and our emotions. Not only do we tap into God’s peace, Paul says that peace will actually guard our hearts.
Look at verse 7 in the New Living Translation.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Are you worried, anxious or stressed out?
Stop meditating and obsessing on all those things that are above your pay grade. Instead give those negative things to your Father in Heaven. He said he can handle them for you. Then you can experience peace that is so incredibly powerful that it can hold you steadfast no matter what storm may be raging all around you.