(This is Part 3 of a 3-part series)
Lord knows we have plenty to worry about these days.
Can I stay healthy? Will I keep my job? Could I lose my house? When will all of this “Corona-craziness” end? Will it end?
Add these new concerns to our already full plate of worries and it can quickly become overwhelming.
In Part One, I talked about the debilitating power worry can have over us. We know it stresses us out, causing us to lose sleep, overeat, and become anxious and depressed.
But worry can also make us physically sick. Headaches. Dizziness. Nausea. Over the long-haul, worry can lead to ulcers, suppression of our immune system, and even heart attacks.
In short, worry can literally kill you.
But perhaps, most tragically (what’s more tragic than death?), worry steals our joy. We can spend so much time dwelling on all the terrible things that might happen that we can’t enjoy all the wonderful things that are happening.
However, as followers of Jesus, we can have peace in the midst of uncertainty. We can remain calm on the inside even when storms are raging on the outside.
First and foremost, we can be at peace because God is near. We may feel like a rudderless boat being tossed about on the sea, but Jesus is in the boat with us. He will either calm the storm on the outside, calm the storm on the inside, or both. We have nothing to fear because God is always near.
Secondly, God cares about us. He cares about even the most-trivial matters in our lives. He doesn’t just care about the facts. He cares about how we feel. He invites us to give all of our anxious feelings to Him to care for (1 Peter 5:7).
Third, God promises to provide for us. He promises to put food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. If we seek Him first. When we stop looking up to God, we start looking down on ourselves. That’s when worry takes a hold of our minds.
So, how do we keep God at home in our minds, while kicking worry to the curb?
HOW to Experience God’s Peace
Worry can hang like a dense fog in our lives, weighing us down and keeping us from seeing what’s really there. When we look at our problems, all we see is this huge, dense fog covering everything, clouding our view.
However, it’s been said that a dense fog covering seven city blocks, to a depth of 100 feet, is composed of less than one glass of water. That’s crazy! If all the fog covering seven city blocks, 100 feet deep, were collected in a cup, it wouldn’t even fill it!
Sometimes our worries seem so huge and overwhelming. We can’t see past them. But, truthfully, few of our worries are as big as they appear. What seems daunting and insurmountable can really be put into a drinking glass and swallowed with one gulp!
Here are two simple practical ways to dissipate the fog of worry.
Make Every Worry a Prayer
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.(Philippians 4:6a)
Here’s a simple equation:
WORRY / PRAYER = PEACE
Every time you start to worry, turn it into a prayer.
Instead of, “I’m worried I’m not going to be able to pay the bills…” Try, “Lord, I need you to provide the money to pay my bills this month.”
Instead of, “I’m worried about the future…” Try, “Lord, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know you hold the future. Help me to trust you.”
Instead of, “I’m worried about what other people will think of me…” Try, “Lord, I need you to remind me of what You think of me.”
In case you’re still not sure, how this works, here’s a simple diagram to illustrate:
Make Every Prayer a “Thank You”
The second half of Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:6 is:
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Say, “thank you” before you say, “please.”
“Lord, thank you for how you have always provided for my needs. I need you to do it again this month.”
“Lord, I thank you that no matter what happens, you are in control. Help me to trust you.””
“Lord, I thank you that I am a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. Remind of who I really am every time I worry about what others think of me.”
If you make every worry a prayer and every prayer a “thank you,”
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)
WORRY / PRAYER + GRATITUDE = PEACE
Make it personal
One of the transformative practices in my life has been writing prayers directly from the Scriptures. I take a passage like Philippians 4:6-7 and I rewrite it twice. The first time, I write it as God speaking directly to me. The second time, I write it as my prayer/declaration to God.
Jeff, don’t worry about anything. Instead talk to Me about everything. Tell Me what you need and thank Me for all I have done for you. Then you will experience My peace, which exceeds anything you can possibly understand. My peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Me.
I will not worry about anything. Instead, I will pray about everything. I will tell You everything I need and thank You for all You have done for me. Then I will experience Your peace which exceeds anything I can possibly understand. Your peace will guard my heart and mind as I live in You.
Now watch that fog disappear.