If everyone worries, does that make it okay? It seems like worry and anxiety have been woven into the fabric of our society, right up there with patriotism and hot dogs. Some mothers consider worry a spiritual gift, taking pride in fretting over their children, trying to control as much as possible.
But control is an illusion, which leads to worry. We worry about things we cannot control, and the amount of things outside of our control is overwhelming. You can’t control the other drivers out there so you worry every time you hit the road. You can’t control your child’s actions so you worry about them every Friday night. You can’t control the economy so you worry every time the next hint of layoffs comes floating through the office.
Anxiety creeps in when we don’t get what we think we deserve. We had a bad childhood, our first spouse betrayed us, we got passed over for that promotion that we feel like we rightfully deserved. When injustice is done to us (and it’s done far too often), anxiety can settle on us like an oppressive blanket, choking out the joy and happiness that God wants us to experience.
Although worry and anxiety are nearly everywhere, they are entirely overcomable. In the first century letter written to Christians, Paul had numerous reasons to worry: imprisonment and impending death, the near death of his close friend Epaphroditus, and church leadership beginning to bicker and fight. But instead Paul wrote the book of Philippians as one of the greatest testaments to a life of joy. In Philippians 4, he gives us five biblical steps to overcome worry and anxiety:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9