“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
Every once and in awhile, I wake up to a day when my insecurities and worries threaten to get the best of me. It starts subtly, but can quickly spiral into a full-on questioning of the meaning of life! “Who am I? What if people don’t like what I have to say? What if I didn’t really hear God right and I’m not the right person for the job?”
Do the worries of life sometimes overwhelm you? Maybe the little everyday stressors stack up and weigh heavily on your heart. I have recently realized how easy it is to become trapped in a prison and it’s called worry. You may know it by its other names…anxiety and fear. These things can immobilize you and keep you from the joy and peace that God intends for you. It is a slippery slope off the path that leads to peace and joy. It starts small and grows until all you can see is that worry or fear.
Good news! God has given us a way to be set free. In this section of Scripture, Paul tells the church in Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He follows it by saying, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.” Although these two phrases may not seem related, they are meant to go together. He knows we cannot fully rejoice until we let go of the worry and fear. Joy and worry are opposites in nature. Worry threatens to take our joy. Fear is out to destroy our peace. We must give our worry, in every situation, to God through prayer. When we lay them down in His capable hands we are set free from the hold they have over us. We trust in an all-powerful God, our Heavenly Father, who knows and loves us. He takes care of our worry and need, and gives us peace instead.
Maybe your worry isn’t over a situation but rather a matter of the heart. Some of my biggest worries are over my own insecurities. Paul reminds us that there is a way out when the insecurities start to surface and whisper lies into our heads. The first key is relinquishing our worries to God. Once we allow God to take them over, we need to start filling up with truth.
In John 8:32, Jesus said that, “the truth will set you free.” In Ephesians, Paul talks about putting on the armor of God and the very first item is the belt of truth that wraps around us. This is why he goes on to say,
“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.”
Paul is reminding us to fill up our minds with truth and goodness. This can help us take every thought captive for Christ as we compare it to this list. When the narrative in my head starts to spiral out of control, I can stop and ask, “Is this true? Is this right? Is it lovely or admirable?” When I stop to line my thoughts up with these questions, I often realize that my thinking is not grounded in the truth. I am caught up in the lies of the enemy. Satan wants us to remain ensnared by the untruths that tell us that we are not capable, not good enough, not called, that we are unlovely or unloved. He wants us to feel alone and paralyzed by worry, fear and insecurity.
But God’s message is different. He gently calls us as a loving Father, to hear truth.
“Come to me, my child. Give me all that weighs so heavily on your heart. Let me remind of what is true. You are radically loved. You are uniquely and wonderfully made by me and I make no mistakes. I have called you to be my child and be a light in this dark world. You have purpose and significance–there is work in this world that only you can do. I have given you everything you need to do my good work and I will provide for all your needs. Put your trust in me. You are never alone for I am with you always and will never leave you or forsake you. I will take your worries and give you peace that will guard your heart and mind”
So today, if you find your worries and anxieties spiraling out of control, put these things into practice. Ask yourself, “Are my thoughts based in truth? Does the message in my mind match the message of God’s truth?” If not, talk to God about it and let him know what is on your heart. Trust Him with all that burdens your heart and mind and allow His peace and joy fill you up. He will give you a peace that rises above your circumstances, so that you truly can rejoice.