Read Philippians 4:1-7
I’m sure most of us have read this passage or seen it on a plaque at the Chrisitan bookstore a hundred times. These familiar passages can sometimes be the hardest to study because we think we “already know it”, when in reality we’ve never let it sink deeply into our hearts.
The theme of this book is encouragement, especially in suffering. So it only makes sense that Paul would give us some advice on what to do when we are struggling with anxiety in times of suffering.
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Notice the first word he uses in verse 4 in this admonition? Rejoice. He tells us to rejoice, twice. He then goes on to say pray. In all things, especially in times of anxiety, pray with thanksgiving.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is rooted in fear.
Anxiety, worry, and fear do not only pertain to what is true, real, and present, but also the possibilities of danger, horrible outcomes, and uncertainty. Paul tells us that one of the best ways to fight worry is to focus on what is true in your life and be thankful.
Ann Voskamp in her book 1000 Gifts tells us that a lack of thanksgiving is what led to the fall. Rather than Adam & Eve being thankful for all that God had given them, they focused on the one thing He had withheld, and out of ingratitude and pride, they went after it. She tells us that having an attitude of gratitude helps fight even the greatest of sins, it helps fight worry, fear, anxiety, and discontentment.
If you notice, in our worry, if we pray to God with thanksgiving, we are filled with peace. Peace doesn’t come when our mind is absent of anxious thoughts, peace comes when our mind is filled on the reality of God.
The weapon we use against anxiety is prayer, and the ammunition is thanksgiving. Starting today, when worry or fear begin to fill your mind, take those captive with thanksgiving. Keep a list of things you are thankful and begin to focus on what is good and let the peace of God guard your heart and mind.
1. What is the remedy for feeling anxious (v.6)? What is the result of that remedy (v.7)?
2. Look up the words rejoice and thanksgiving. Write the definitions below.
3. Do you struggle with feeling anxious? How can you fight anxiety with thanksgiving? Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for below.
This post is not meant to oversimplify the mental illness of anxiety. In this context, it’s referencing fear, worry, and anxious thoughts. If you suffer from clinical anxiety, I’d encourage you to visit The Well’s Counseling Center for greater resources on how to find hope and healing.