A few weeks ago, I woke up in a great mood and felt ready to face the day with joy. The sun was shining, my family was healthy, and it seemed like it was going to be a great day. On my to-do list that day was to take my 4 year old son to the children’s dentist (which he loves), and afterward get coffee from the coffee stand next door (coffee for me, chocolate milk for him). We got in the car, drove to the dentist, checked in, went to the back for the check-up, and then my whole day turned around.
The dentist told me that my son had 8 cavities and needed multiple fillings and crowns and that was going to cost us over $2000. To say I was in shock would be an understatement, especially because we religiously brushed his teeth every night before bed! Unfortunately, he seemed to have inherited his parents' very porous teeth. Now he was facing a lot of invasive dental work, and we were facing a very high bill, neither of which gave me any warm fuzzies. We left the dentist and I felt sick to my stomach, so much so that I didn’t even want my anticipated coffee that I had planned to get. I was sick with worry the rest of my day, and the next few days were just a blur of worry and doom.
Has this ever happened to you? You are going about your day and everything seems good, and then you get some bad news or someone says something negative. Then it seems like a switch is flipped in your mind and you are overcome with worry about. Suddenly your good day and happy demeanor are overshadowed by this fog of worry which seems to infiltrate every thought and experience from then on. This is what happened to me on the day of the dentist visit, and I find it frustrating when I can’t seem to snap out of it.
Whether it’s news of a sick friend or family member, an unexpected bill you don’t know how you are going to pay, or a harsh word from someone you love, it can be extremely difficult to not let bad news ruin your attitude and your day. It’s especially difficult when there are multiple sources of worry upon you at the same time. When we get that uneasy feeling that causes a heavy weight on our hearts and minds, how can we get free from it? Thankfully, God has a solution for us that will free us from the tyranny of worry and anxiety in our lives.
“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” (Philippians 4:6-7).
I love encouraging scriptures like this because they not only give us hope of a fresh outlook, but they also practically tell us how to walk it out! So how do we go about really experiencing this peace of God in our hearts?
The beginning of the verse tells us not to worry. Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply tell ourselves not to worry, and then we stopped worrying? Life would sure be easy if this were the case!
However, easy lives don’t lead us to Christ and his strength; rather the difficult moments are the ones that draw us closer to him. The best way to stop doing something is to start doing the opposite. If we don’t replace negative behavior with positive behavior, the negative behavior will linger around like a bad odor. So when you are faced with worry, pray! Different versions of this verse tell you to “tell God what you need” (NLT) and “[let] God know your concerns” (MSG) and “make your wants known to God” (AMP). The bottom line is to get with God and talk to him about what is troubling you. He obviously already knows, but he wants you to come to him and ask him personally for his help!
2. Be Thankful
After telling God what we need, we are instructed to thank him for all he has done. It’s amazing how focusing on all the blessings of God in your life can really turn your perspective around!
If you are facing financial troubles, thank God for financial blessings he’s given you in the past. Simply being alive and having the ability to face your worries is something to be thankful for! Having an attitude of thankfulness not only blesses God, but it also blesses us by reminding us of God’s faithfulness in the past. I personally know how easy it is to forget all the ways God has come through for me in the past when I’m facing a giant problem. The problem seems so big, but having a thankful attitude puts the problem into perspective and reminds me that God will come through again, because he always has in the past.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/olegbreslavtsev
3. Lean into God’s Peace
Once we pray and thank God for all he has done, he promises his peace for us, which exceeds anything we can understand! When we experience peace in the middle of troubling circumstances, it really is beyond our understanding because it simply doesn’t make sense. That is exactly what God wants to give us, though.
The Message Bible puts it like this: Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
Wow! When I am consumed with worry, that is what I’m really looking for - for God to settle me down! I have experienced first-hand how God can change my heart and give me peace even when my stressful circumstances remain the same, and it is amazing. The Amplified version defines that kind peace for us as: “that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace.”
4. Live in Christ Jesus
For some people, simply praying and thanking God will immediately bring them peace and their worry will be gone for good, but the majority of us (myself included) we have to walk this out over and over again. God’s peace comes as we “live in Christ Jesus.” I can pray and be thankful, but unless I choose to continually do so and surrender my worry over to God, the worry creeps back in. God’s ways are not a one-and-done kind of deal. He is not like a candy machine where you put a prayer in, get an answer, and then walk away. God’s Word works in our lives as we walk with him and continually work on renewing our minds to his Word. It’s a process, but if we submit to the process, we will be richly blessed!
The good news is that as we grow and mature in God, setting aside our worry and anxiety gets easier over time. The bad news is (bad for our flesh anyway) is that we probably won’t ever get to a point where we will no longer deal with it. While we are on this earth in our human flesh, we will always deal with temptations and fight against our human nature, but God’s Word always works and he will always be there to help us through anything we face.
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and their two sons. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.
Read our guide for How to Stop Worrying: 13 Practical Steps and start taking small steps today toward living fully free from anxieties.