“Don’t worry, it’ll be ok” How many times have you heard that trite phrase before? To be fair, this consolation is often well-intentioned. Even so, it comes across as dismissive, doesn’t it?
How in the world is it possible for us not to worry, anyway? If we were to be honest with ourselves we’d have to admit that, as hard as we try, there is very little that we can control in life. Thus, our tendency to worry.
That’s why Philippians 4:4-7 should get our attention.
“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.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
Reading this scripture, it appears to me that we are encouraged to respond in two ways when confronted with anxiety: to come to God with our concerns and to rejoice in the Lord.
The first step is often the hardest. In fact, depending on God for our needs directly opposes our human nature. We are self-sufficient. We’d rather go it alone. Our heavenly Father, however, longs for us to draw near to Him when we feel anxious or overwhelmed. “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, CEB) Prayer is the means by which we come close to God.
Once we have communicated our needs to God, we are to rejoice in Him. The Greek word for rejoice in verse 4, χαίρω (chairo) comes from the root χαρά (chara) meaning joy, inner delight or calm delight. Joy in the New Testament is virtually always used to signify a feeling of “happiness” that is based not on our present and ever-changing circumstances, but rather on spiritual realities, most notably our salvation. “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation.” (Isaiah 61:10)
Once we remember that God is on our side– that He is for us, and let that reality truly sink in, how can we experience anything but joy? In fact, rejoicing in the Lord quickly becomes our source of strength. “Do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Do you, like me, struggle with anxiety? Take hope in the fact that there is a divine remedy. Draw near to the Lord, rejoice in Him and expect to receive His peace!