Have you ever had one of those moments where you vulnerably shared your worries, only to be met with the following, supposedly helpful, advice?
“Ah, don’t worry!”
Why didn’t YOU think of that?
The antidote to worrying is NOT to worry.
If only it was that easy, right?
If only our ‘worry’ emotion could simmer down at the flick of a mental switch.
One of my favourite Bible verses, Philippians 4:6-7, suggests a different approach.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
It appears in these opening four words that we find ourselves in familiar territory. Don’t worry about anything, the writer commands. Thankfully he doesn’t stop there but offers three nuggets of ancient advice.
- Turn your worry into a prayer.
- Be real with God about what you need.
- Snatch a moment to be grateful and thankful.
These are more than just divine distraction techniques – although distraction can be helpful, and a constant commitment to cultivating an attitude of gratitude is proven to be good for our emotional wellbeing.
But there’s more on offer here. We all wrestle with living our lives outside-in OR inside-out.
When we live our lives ‘outside-in’, whatever is going on outside of us determines how we’re doing. We are mostly shaped by the state of our circumstances.
When we live our lives ‘inside-out’, whatever is going on inside us determines how we’re doing. We are mostly shaped by the state of our soul.
Jesus never promised that our external circumstances will be perfect, but He does invite us to embrace His peace in our internal world – in our heart. Of course, I – like you – long for my difficult circumstances to change. But I’ve been around long enough to know there are rarely quick fixes. So what I need more than anything else is peace. Deep peace. Divine peace. Right here, right now.
Why not try a new daily prayer practice? To pause, breathe slow, and thoughtfully and repeatedly and simply pray “Lord Jesus, I receive your peace.”
And in doing so, maybe we’ll experience the promise of Philippians 4:6-7, just like the famous hymn-writer once wrote…
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul