Philippians 4:4-9 June 8, 2008
Dealing with anxiety
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 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. 9 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.
What causes you anxiety?
Anxiety and the temptation to take control
I think that the things in life that cause us anxiety are the things that are out of our control. We can control the amount of work that goes into a project; we can’t control the project’s success. We can start a journey, we can’t control if an accident will end the journey to soon. We can ask people to do things for us, we can’t control if they will do them. We can express love for someone, we cannot control if they will love us back. We can try to keep shame secret, but we can’t always control if the secret gets out. Are you anxious now?
I think that there is a great temptation to try to control the things that we were never meant to control. Many people will be tempted to step outside of God’s ways to gain control – they’ll try love potion #9, they’ll cook the books, they’ll resort to force…
Or we try to control everything we possibly can around the uncontrollable thing
- King Saul
1 Samuel 13
5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand [c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings." And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 "What have you done?" asked Samuel.
Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ’Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."
13 "You have done a foolish thing," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command."
Anxiety can get us in trouble – what do we do with it?
Rejoice! – so good, he says it twice
- Not “be happy all the time,” But rejoice in the Lord. Regardless of our situation, God remains the same, and he is worth celebrating.
- Even in the most difficult of situations, we can be glad for a visit from a good friend – it is the same with rejoicing in God – we do not ignore the situations that we find ourselves in, but we allow his presence to bring us joy.
- Take the focus off yourself and your anxieties, and place it on the Solid Rock that is God.
- This is not a “cure” for anxiety – it is more prevention than cure – like taking your vitamins – make sure that you fill your day with praise for \god, but be sure to have some concerted time each day that celebrates God’s goodness – he deserves it, and it will keep you from anxiety
- Sing a song, listen to praise music, read a psalm, speak you praise and worship to him, dance, meditate on his goodness – do something!
I think Paul is talking about being gentle with the people asround us here, but as we apply it to preventing anxiety, we also need to be gentle with ourselves and our own plans. We can get anxious when there are uncontrolled variables in our plans for life, for our work, for our family, for the weekend, for the next five minutes
hold things lightly in your hand – including our plans
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
Not just a tag line that says “Lord willing” at the end of every stated plan – it is not a magic phrase – make it a true attitude.
Relates to trust in God Jeremiah 29:11 -14
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD,
Not always easy to trust - verse10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
If the preventative medicine doesn’t work & you still get anxious, Paul still has something for us to do
There are some people like me who internalize their anxiety – I’m not normally an anxious person, but if I do get anxious, it all stays inside my brain and my stomach. Others externalize their anxiety – if they’re anxious, we all know about it, because they tell us. If you are that type of person, you actually may have an advantage – you just need to redirect that eternalised anxiety onto God!
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
There is probably someone in your life that you cast your anxiety on – you call them up and have a little freak out session, or if you are like me you cast all your anxiety on your stomach
We need to learn to cast our anxieties on God – he cares for us, and he can do something about it.
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane – he is our model – he gather’s close friends around him, and he pour out his anxieties on God.
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Develop an attitude of gratitude – start your prayers with thanksgiving.
There is always something to give thanks for, always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Meditate on the good
8 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
“If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.
Doerkson song “Jesus, you’re true, Jesus, your pure…” It is a great song, but the scripture doesn’t say that – it says to meditate on Whatever – all things that are good, noble, pure… God created the earth and declared it good! The fall did not negate the goodness of creation – we do not admire God’s creation and all things good in a godless way, we meditate on it in his presence, and with thanksgiving
We are good at meditating on what is false, what is base, what is wrong, what is twisted, what is ugly, what is debased – we just have to turn on the news, or almost any other TV show. We only need to join the discussions at the water-cooler. We have decided that negativity is wisdom in our culture. We can name what is wrong with the most beautiful of things!
We need to be counter cultural, an fill our minds with the good.
Then… God’s peace
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
… 9 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.
God doesn’t give his peace with no responsibility our side. If you are concerned that you don’t have the promised peace, (Maybe you are anxious about your lack of peace) you have to ask yourself, am I rejoicing in the Lord, am I practicing gentleness with my plans? Do I cast my anxieties on God? Do I practice thankfulness? Do I meditate on the good? - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
You can understand that doing these things without God might help you with your anxiety, but when we do them with God, he does a miracle and gives us a peace that goes beyond cognitive therapy and “right thinking” – it’s the peace that transcends all understanding!