Crushing Worry and Anxiety

I think we’ve come to a point in our society when worry has become the pandemic.  Strangely, some of us seem to treat anxiety like a close friend we don’t’ want to lose:  You excuse it, make room for it, accommodate it, and coddle it.  You treat it like a destructive codependent relationship and it eats  away at your joy day after day.  Think about what worry really is and does.  When we worry, we’re preoccupied  with distressing fears-burdened by the past, nervous about the present, and tormented by the future.  You live in the realm of what if’s,  That kind of mental and emotional agitation isn’t healthy and you don’t’ have to live that way.  Jesus has a better plan.  It’s no wonder Jesus too worldly worry head on in His famous sermon in Matthew 6:25-34.  5 times in that passage he uses the word worry.

  • For this reason, do not be worried.
  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life
  • And why are you worried
  • Do not worry then
  • Do not worry, for tomorrow will care for itself.

Those of you who engage in incessant worry find their entire lives off kilter, teetering on the brink of breakdown.  To combat this dangerous trajectory, Paul re-centers our focus in Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.  In a letter in which joy has been a constant theme, it’s no surprise that Paul reiterates that theme now, as he is about to discuss the threat of anxiety.  By refocusing on the Joy we have in the Lord, we already begin to pour water on the flames of worry.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  Philippians 4:5
How is this accomplished?
By allowing your gentle spirit to shine through.  In other words…relax.  The idea is to have an easy going temperament.  Instead of worrying about every little thing in our lives and the lives of others, you need to relax.  Let things go.  Yield to other.  Extend a hand of grace to brothers and sisters in Christ.  Let insignificant things slide.  Accept differences.  This kind of gentle spirit will douse the uncontrolled fires of anxiety.
Keep in mind the Lord is near.  The Lord is near.  The fact that Christ could call us up to our heavenly home at any moment to be with Him forever and ever can give you hope and peace in every moment.  In another letter, Paul described Christ’s coming, in which He would resurrect and rescue the believers at His return 1 Thess. 4:16-17.  Paul concluded that passage in 18 with, “Therefore comfort one another with these words”  Comfort in Christ’s promised return smothers the smoldering anxiety fed by fears of the future.
Replace my worry with prayer.  Another cure for worry is prayer.  Instead of living uptight, tense and uneasy lives, you need to bring everything to God by supplication with thanksgiving.  And everything means everything.  This is the key.  Worry about nothing, pray about everything.  If you feel agitated, pray about it.  If you are scared, pray about it.  If you are mad, pray about it.  If you are burdened by a past that threatens to come back and haunt you, aske the Lord to take if from you.  If you can’t get through a moment of the day without stressing about your loved one, spend that time praying on their behalf instead of mentally and emotionally running through the awful what if scenarios.  If you are freaking out about the future of our nation.  Go to your knees and pray for revival.  When you do these things-rejoice in the Lord, exhibit gentleness, expect Christ’s return and reach out in prayer-then my friend the Holy Spirit will quench the flames of anxiety in your heart and mind.  

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7
Paul describes this relief in terms of the peace of God.  Paul probably had in mind the …
Defining terms
“Shalom:”  Jewish concept of peace, that means: wholeness, harmony, flourishing, delight, fulfillment.
“Shalom is the dream of God for a world set right.” – Barry Jones, Dwell: Life with God for the World, 34
When it comes back, do it all again.  This isn’t a once and done, but from my experience, the more you do it, the more ingrained you are to stay at peace. No wonder Paul says that God’s peace surpasses all understanding.  And is able to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is no mere absence of anxiety, but a positive presence of God’s Spirit of comfort and joy. This kind of peace doesn’t simply extinguish the flames of anxiety—God’s shalom replaces the dry, parched conditions that ignite worry with the cool, clear nourishing streams of the river of life.

Let me give you three simple words to put all this into practice and allow you to crush anxiety before it starts.  The next time worry begins to take over, rejoice.  Take a moment to worship and praise Him for who He is and what He has done.  Then relax, chill out.  Don’t’ take things so seriously.  Don’t’ feel like you need to respond to every criticism or give an opinion on every topic.  Then rest.  Rest in the Lord’s goodness.
Pastor Chris Williams
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