Worry Isn't Helping Me

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

I sat in our church yesterday listening to our cousin, who is a church planter, preach on this passage from Philippians. As he dissected the phrases in these verses word-by-word, a new thought floated into my mind.

He was pointing out that there's a kind of a sequence to these verses: the 'peace of God' comes WHEN we believe that the LORD is near, and we rejoice in Him and practice thankfulness for His closeness and all that He has done. When we choose to take our eyes off the reality of our circumstances and put them on instead on the reality of God being close to us, THEN we experience peace that is not tied to our circumstances. Peace that happens APART FROM our circumstances. Our circumstances don't change or get fixed. But we get peace. AND THIS PEACE GUARDS US. 

The idea that the peace of God 'guards us' when we intentionally choose to dwell of God-reality intrigued me. It made me think of the flip side. Like, what happens if I don't choose to lift my eyes to God? What if I choose to worry instead? What if I choose to dwell on what my eyes can see naturally? What if I let myself be filled with anxiety?

Am I forfeiting an opportunity to have peace guard me?

I kind of wonder if I would be.

I can think of so many times when I've got something in my life that seems overwhelming to me. The circumstances feel so big that my mind keeps circling back, circling back, circling back to that one thing. I worry about it, I have imaginary conversations in my head, I wonder what other people involved are thinking about me, I ponder the 'What if's?'. And in some twisted way, my unhealthy mental and emotional preoccupation with the thing that's overwhelming me feels like I am almost doing something helpful about it. And the worrying and the over-thinking eventually lead me take some kind of action about the situation...action that is usually unhealthy. I say or do something passive-aggressive...or I try to do something in a controlling way to help the situation...I try to fix it somehow.

But in all of that anxiety and action, I think you can glean from what these verses are saying, that in all my attempts to help myself and even GUARD myself from more pain and the 'What if's?' and people's opinions, in all my attempts to do something helpful, I'm actually forfeiting what I'm really looking for: guarded by peace. Because isn't that what I really want when I'm overwhelmed: to feel safe and secure (aka...guarded)?

What if, instead of doing my worrying thing, I used all that mental and emotional energy to make myself STOP and remember GOD. What if I followed the sequence laid out in those verses: remember that the LORD is near; rejoice in Him (not in what I see with my eyes); instead of dwelling on anxious thoughts, choose thankfulness (because His nearness makes good things happen at the same time as overwhelming things, and cry out to Him)?

It seems like then I actually would be doing something helpful. It seems like then I would find myself guarded.

I'm not saying that it's easy. I personally know that it takes a HUGE amount of energy and strength to 'lift my eyes' off of my circumstances. It's completely opposite of what is natural for us. Racing thoughts and mind filled with anxiety is what feels natural. But God tells us that when we remember Him, how big He is, how close He is, how much His help really matters in life, and that He's promised that in every single situation He's with us and helping us, NEVER going away or not caring, that's when we're really helped. Not when we think about it, think about it, think about it, and take matter into our own hands. 

And I'll tell you what. When I've got something in my life that seems overwhelming, I'd much rather use my energy in a way that's not natural for me and end up being guarded, than to do what feels natural and be left unguarded

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

#restGIRLhope