Storms rage in our hearts and minds often. Life, relationships, circumstances—they trouble us. We realize that most things are out of control. We are unsure of what will happen from day to day. And so we live from stress to stress, and anxiety to anxiety.
This stress leads to lots of conflict, eating disorders, insecurities, and all sorts of anxiety related things that, at the least, testify to us that we are not at peace.
The most highlighted passage in the bible according to Amazon is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.”
We are an anxious people. Our current American culture suffers from anxiety and stress-related disorders, perhaps, more than any other culture in the history of the world.
- 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety disorders such as depression, sleeplessness, eating disorders, panic attacks, social anxiety
- Some research says that 1 in 5 are on some sort of anxiety medication
- Antidepressants have doubled in the last 25 years
And despite being in the richest and most entertained nation in the history of the world, and despite the constant sales pitch that we can and should be happy, we can and should be at peace—we obviously aren’t.
Before we get to the most highlighted verse in the bible in parts four and five—the one that says “don’t be anxious…”—we have to do some reconnaissance work.
Look at Philippians 4:4-5, the verses right before—they’re important too:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand;”
These are three statements that maybe seem disconnected (and certainly they can stand on their own), but the Apostle Paul is never random.
The most highlighted passage in the bible according to Amazon is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious…”
Anxiety doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is a ground that anxiety grows in. There’s some things that affect us that can breed anxiety. Or another way to put it is that there is a way to cultivate your life that tends toward more peace.
We need to take inventory of our heart, of our relationships, and of our theology. The bible wants you to consider yourself, others, and God, because all three factor in to whether we are anxious or at peace.
In parts two and three we’ll look at your relationships and theology. But here in Part 1 let’s take a look at your heart.
TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR HEART
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4)
Where are you at? Where are your desires? What strong emotions have you been expressing? Verse four says to “Rejoice…” Joy is a gladness of the heart. There’s a depth to it, there’s a strength to it—your heart is glad. And then to rejoice is to express your glad heart
Have you been rejoicing? Is your heart glad?
It’s hard to be anxious when you’re rejoicing. Is your heart glad in the Lord?
Anxiety doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
A couple of verses later in verse six it says we should go to God in prayer “with thanksgiving.”
A thankful heart rejoices.
Hasn’t he done so much!? Doesn’t he love you? How much has he already done for you!? I know this thing is beginning to stress you out, it’s hard, you’re beginning to get anxious, but think about all the things in your life you aren’t anxious about right now. Can you rejoice in those things? That he’s provided you that?
When your joy is set on Someone that won’t ever leave you or forsake you…
When your joy is set on Someone that can’t be taken from you…
When your joy is set on Someone who is always faithful…
When suffering can’t take your joy, that’s when your finally free, that’s where you’ll be at peace.
Rejoicing in the Lord is kind of like a middle finger to anxiety and suffering.
The world could be coming down all around you, but you’re going to rejoice because God is good and Jesus is enough and you are his!
Take inventory of your heart. How do your desires play into your anxiety?
This post is an excerpt of Jim’s sermon, Anxiety. Watch it here.