It seems that a prerequisite for being at peace, of a restful, worry-free mind is a cute little VW Van in the Rocky Mountains. Haha! Nope! Although that would be tons of fun! Peace isn’t a place. Although a little time in the breathtaking mountains or seaside, can alter my attitude a bit...ok, sometimes a lot.
Peace goes deeper than that. Plus, I can't just take off any time I want and run away, although there have been many days I have considered doing just that especially during this pandemic. I need to tap into God's peace right where I am.
In the last chapter of Philippians, Paul addresses worry (anxiety) head on. It is another favorite passage that I have read over and over again in my life. Why? Because I can struggle with being anxious and worried about many things. But, before we get to that scripture...
Remember, Paul was sitting in prison when he penned Philippians. And, if that wasn't enough cause for worry - Paul had experienced a laundry list of things that would have easily caused worry, anxiety and stress in his life. He truly knew first hand. Take a look...
"I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm" (1 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT). He experienced all kinds of snares, shipwrecks, storms and even a snake bite.
Despite all those things, Paul learned how to have peace amidst the daily struggles of life. Paul knew clearly that peace begins with a mind shift. The opposite of peace is conflict and distress. When our minds are battling doubts and fears and lies of the enemy, we can’t possibly be at peace. Worry advances. It is time to take back the ground that the enemy has stolen in our minds. Paul gave us 3 T's for Tackling Worry - tried and true tactics for winning the battle of worry in our minds.
#1 - TELL
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need..."(Philippians 4:6a NLT)
Pray about everything. Not some things. EVERYTHING. Turn your worries into prayers.
“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (I Peter 5:7 AMP)
Psalm 55:22 (AMP) echoes this verse: “Cast your burden on the Lord (releasing the weight of it) and He will sustain you: He will never allow the (consistently) righteous to be moved (made to slip, fail, or fall.)
TELL God all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns once and for all. As we begin to unload the burdens we carry, when we release control to the One who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), He fills us with peace.
Not sure how? Start with reading the Psalms - great examples of turning heart cries into prayers. Need some more help? Go to the SHE believed series post UNLOAD and learn more about praying your worries away.
#2 - THANK
"and THANK him for all he has done" (Philippians 4:6b NLT).
A prelude to peace is simply gratitude.
“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” Thomas Merton
THANK God for His provision, His protection, His power, His presence, His people in your life. "Gratitude turns what we have into enough" says a sign on my kitchen wall. Worry is a mindset of lack. Gratitude is a mindset of abundance.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
When our hearts are full of gratitude, there is no room for worry. Gratitude ushers in peace.
Want to learn more about the power of thankfulness in your life, go to the SHE believed series post THANKS and learn more about replacing worry with gratitude.
#3 - THINK
"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" (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
If I were to ask you if your thoughts can be described as any of the above (most of the time), I would bet, for a worrier like me, it would be a resounding NO!
The worrier’s version, my version, usually goes something like this:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is lies, whatever is awful, whatever could go wrong, whatever is impure, whatever is ugly, whatever is lousy – if anything is disasterly or worthy of complaint – think about such things.
That is the worrier’s motto. And, let’s just say that ain’t Hakuna Matata folks. It’s not a worry-free philosophy. That is certainly NOT thinking on the truth of God’s word. This scripture starts with whatever is TRUE. That’s a great place to begin. There is nothing truer than God’s word. His promises. Meditating on his truth. Placing his Word in our hearts. Then, we can access our situation, our worry, by asking: What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy about this circumstance, this thought?
If we never begin to change our way of thinking, “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthinas 10:5), we can’t begin to overcome worry and doubt. Ask me how I know! It takes a conscience effort to replace my thoughts. Every day. Sometimes every hour.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this scripture by looking at how these words are defined in other versions:
Whatever is true…authentic, real.
Whatever is noble…honorable, respectful, worthy of reverence.
Whatever is right…just, reputable, righteous.
Whatever is pure…holy, authentic.
Whatever is lovely…beautiful, compelling, pleasing.
Whatever is admirable…of good report, commendable, gracious.
If anything is excellent…virtuous, any excellence of a person or thing.
Or praiseworthy…a commendable thing, deserves praise.
Think about such things…mediate, consider, dwell, take inventory, count.
“The best, not the worst;
The beautiful, not the ugly;
Things to praise, not things to curse.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (MSG)
“Fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.” (TPT) That, my friends, is a game changer for a worried soul.
Want to learn more about building a foundation of trust in God's promises, thinking on truth, take a look at the SHE believed series post TRUTH. You will learn more about overcoming worry by thinking on truth.
When you TELL God your worries, when you THANK Him for all He has provided and done for you, and when you THINK on truth, Paul says, "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" (Philippians 4:7 NLT)
Friends, that's the challenge this week. Instead of allowing worry to get the best of us, to win the battle of our minds, remember the 3 T's: Tell, Thank, and Think. And, watch God's peace begin to wash away worry in our hearts and minds.
This adorable artwork (and my website) is by Abigail Ann.
You can find her at abigailann.net