Girlfriends in God - Apr. 19, 2010

April 19, 2010 


Winning over Worry 

Part 1 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Philippians 4:4-7 "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 everything, 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." 

Friend To Friend 
I can be so arrogant when it comes to the control of my life. I set my agenda and then ask God to put His stamp of approval on it. I face difficult circumstances with the attitude that I am capable of handling them on my own. In reality, I am desperate for God. There are so many things I can't do anything about - but God can.

I read about a young woman whose battle with worry prompted her to create a sign that read, "Things I Can't Do Anything About But God Can." Underneath those words, she listed anything in her life that tempted her to worry instead of trusting God.

In 1995, I went through a devastating two-year battle with clinical depression.  While sitting at the bottom of that deep, dark pit, I discovered that the pit of depression is always filled with waters swimming with worry.

I worried about how I got into the pit and how I would or even if I could get out. I worried that my depression would hurt my family and our ministry. I worried about what people would think of me when they saw my weakness and failure. In the darkness, worry made everything seem bigger and uglier than it really was. Worry helped usher me into the pit and worry was now one of the prisons guards. I desperately wanted to trust God, exchanging my worry for His peace. I read countless books on the subject, described in detail my favorite worries to those who would listen and constantly begged God to take away the anxiety and fear. Nothing worked. I was losing the battle with worry while sinking lower into the grip of darkness. There had to be a way to win over worry.

The journey began with a strong, clear look at the affects of worry in my life.  It was not a pretty picture. Worry permeates every area of life, invading peace, warping perspectives and affecting physical and emotional health.

Worry is wasted energy. It is consuming, draining and unhealthy. Worry fits this world but it certainly does not fit the picture of a joy-filled life, the life that Jesus came to give us. Nothing will rob you of joy quicker than worry. God came so that we would not have to worry and yet we continue to do so. During those dark years, I sat at His feet dumping each fear and worry into His capable hands, resting and waiting for deliverance. It came.

In today's key passage, Paul gives us the promise of peace. However, there are conditions to be met and actions we must take in order to experience that peace and win over worry.

Action one: Choose joy.

Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!"  The Message says it this way: "Celebrate God all day, every day.  I mean, revel in him!"

The author, Paul, is serious about joy, telling us twice in this passage to rejoice. The word "rejoice" means "to practice joy, to take delight in and be glad." Many times life makes it impossible to be happy but we need to understand that happiness is not what Paul is calling us to. Happiness is a cheap imitation of true joy and totally dependent on the circumstances of life. Joy is a deeply rooted confidence that God is in control no matter what the circumstances of life may be. Joy is a choice.

Paul's situation, while writing this letter, could make you wonder why he was writing about joy, of all things. He was in prison under Roman house arrest, awaiting trial and almost certain execution because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, he tells us to rejoice!  Don't miss this life-changing truth!  Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances.  In other words, we cannot always find joy in our circumstances but we can always find joy in the Lord of the circumstances.

You have probably discovered that there is absolutely no way in this world to escape pain, but we can avoid joy. The pursuit of joy is a matter of choice.  Our first and most important choice is to come to the only source of true joy - Jesus Christ. We must also choose to rejoice in the midst of every circumstance - good or bad - and keep our focus on God, gladly accepting His plan for our lives. We must choose a joyful perspective. 

A little boy asked his friend, "Wouldn't you hate to wear glasses all the time?"  "No-o-o," the other boy answered slowly, "not if I had the kind grandma wears. She sees how to fix many things. She sees many nice things to do on rainy days and she always sees what you meant to do even if you mess things up. I asked her one day how she could see that way all the time and she said, ‘It is the way I choose to look at things.'  So it must be her glasses." When we choose joy, we are choosing against worry.

(Join me tomorrow for Part 2 as we explore more steps that will help us win over worry.)  

Let's Pray 
Father, I feel as if worry constantly nips at my heels, trying to steal my joy. Please help me to see life as You see it and to choose Your perspective instead of my own.  I ask You to lead me into Your peace as I learn to trust You wholly. 

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 

·     What role have you allowed worry to play in daily life?  

·     What are some of the ways you have confronted worry in the past?  Were they effective?  

·     What is the first step you need to take in order to win over worry? 

·     Read and memorize the verses of Scripture below. 

Philippians 4:7 "Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus" (NLT).

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you" (NLT).

More From The Girlfriends 
We live in uncertain times when worry and fear seem to be familiar companions. God wants us to experience and live in peace. Ask Him to help you surrender each fear to Him and step out in faith - today.

Need help? We all do. Join women from across the world in my weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey.

Visit my online store and download the E-Bible study, Getting a Grip on Fear or check out my new DVD - Strength for the Storm.

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Originally published Monday, 19 April 2010.