Worry –> Prayer –> PeaceSeptember 23, 2019
Stress is such a small word but its grip on our lives can be large and debilitating. A few years ago, I read an article by the American Psychological Association about what stressed us the most in the U.S. In order of stress triggers, here’s the statistics they released:
- Job Pressure
God’s provided in Philippians 4 a beautiful process of navigating life
and receiving His incredible peace when we are stressed.
I’m convinced that stress is not something new. Just like the average American, the early Christians also experienced stress. Their stress was in the form of persecution and affliction at the hands of the Roman empire. Paul was also not immune to stress. He was imprisoned and faced possible execution, but in the midst of it all he offered the church in Philippi powerful direction for navigating the stress in their lives, and that advice is relevant to us today.
Philippians chapter 4 begins with Paul taking the lid off of a stressful relationship. He advises 2 women to settle their disagreement because it was causing division in the church. Yes, Christians are not immune to relationship stress! Resolving this tension was THAT important to Paul, and it was important for the health of the church.
His tone changes in verses 4 and 5 where he challenges us to be full of joy! Be joyful because Jesus Christ is coming back soon – the Message paraphrase says, “any minute” – the Lords return is any minute! Allow your stress to lose its momentum in the reality that the troubles of this world are temporary, and joy can always be found in our relationship with God. It’s all about perspective. Our troubles and stress don’t simply disappear, they just lose their weight when seen in the light of who God is and the promise of eternity.
Verse 6 is the antidote for stress and worry. Prayer. Pray about your worries but Paul reminds us to also pray about everything else. Prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of praise. When we shift our focus from our problems and our stress and begin to look at who God is and what he has done for us, we will experience peace. Verse 7 says, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard you hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” This is more than a statement; it is a powerful PROMISE from God!
Paul wraps up his antidote to stress in verses 8 and 9 of Philippians 4. We can find peace in filling our minds with the things listed in these verses. When we focus on the best things and not the worst things. The Message says it this way:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse… Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies”. Fixing our minds on the positive can help us navigate the negative.
If you find and focus on the good stuff in life your stress will start to lose its grip on your mind and soul. Simple, but not easy. But this really works in reducing stress in your life.
If prayer hasn’t been your first response when you experience stress, make a bold commitment today to start doing this. And if you need a reminder to do this take a post-it and write Praying over Stress equals Peace and/or write out Worry —> Prayer —> Peace and put that note on your bathroom window, steering wheel, work desk, family picture, diaper bag, or in your bill basket. For me I would put my note in my candy jar of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because I would see that every day!
God’s provided in Philippians 4 a beautiful process of navigating life and receiving His incredible peace when we are stressed.