Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I remember and I constantly see it in other people. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural issue or if it’s just something humanity has always struggled with but it’s not something we have to accept. For years I have dwelt on Philippians 4 as a practical way to combat anxiety and have always intended to write about this passage but it never made it on my to-do list until this morning. So tonight, on Thanksgiving Eve, I sat down to reread this passage and I am completely in awe at God’s timing as I find that really, the key to fighting anxiety is thankfulness.
This idea is touched on several times throughout the passage starting in verse 4. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice.” I’m always amazed when I read this verse because I’m reminded that joy is not an option. We are commanded (twice in one verse!) to be happy. Anxiety tells us to fear all that may go wrong but thankfulness lets us rejoice in all that is right. Therefore, our first step to crushing anxiety is to intentionally choose to focus on the good. The good that is God, the good He has done, the good He will do.
Verse 6 continues with this theme as it commands us not to “worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” We are to completely reject the temptation of anxiety by reminding our brain to be thankful. God has been good to us! If we do this we “will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand” (verse 7). Anxiety naturally leads us to a crippled life but thankfulness leads us to supernatural peace.
Paul reiterates this idea one more time in verse 8 when he tells us to focus “on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” When we let our minds feel anxious, we are thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, that are false, that dishonor us, that are wrong and evil and ugly and undesirable. We are consumed with terrible thoughts. But when we choose to fix our thoughts on things that are worthy of praise we are filled with thankfulness which leads us to peace and true joy.
So tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day, as you go around the table and talk about things you’re thankful for, I pray that it starts something new in you. May you discover the power to choose what your mind is dwelling on so that the spirit of Thanksgiving crushes the foothold of anxiety in your life. Just like Paul, may this teach you “the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or with little” (verse 12)and I pray this marks a season of true peace and joy in the Lord for you.
Happy Holidays ❤️❤️