Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. – Philippians 4:6-7
Yesterday, we talked about the first couple of steps Paul tells us to take in the book of Philippians when we’re dealing with stress. We talked about how we can rejoice in the person of God and relax in the presence of God. (If you missed yesterday’s devotion, I highly recommend you go back and read it.) Today, we’re going to continue this conversation and discuss two more steps you can take to handle the stress that’s overwhelming you.
The third step Paul encourages you to take is to release your problems to the Lord. I know it gets irritating when you are worried and somebody says to you, “Quit worrying”, but that is exactly what Paul does. If you want to put a positive spin on it, he says, “Worry about nothing.” That is a lot easier said than done. There is a reason why we shouldn’t worry. It is a waste of time. I once heard worry defined this way: “Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
How do you keep from worrying? What is the alternative? Paul tells us how when he says, “...but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Worry about nothing. Pray about everything. But do you know what we tend to do? We tend to worry about everything and pray about nothing! Those are your only two alternatives and you will do one or the other. So make the best decision and choose to release your problems and your worries to the Lord.
Finally, the fourth step you can take to experience stress relief is to rest in the peace of the Lord. The peace that only God can give will be a guard over your heart and your mind. Stress cannot penetrate it. This is not the kind of temporary peace that people try to find through money or drugs or alcohol or sex, because that peace never lasts anyway. It is a peace that can’t be bought, borrowed, or stolen. It is not found in a pill; it is found in person. It is not a drug or a drink; it is found in a deity.
So, when you want to get the stress out, when you are stressed out, I want you to imagine you have three boxes. One box is labeled “worry.” One box is labeled “prayer.” One box is labeled “thanksgiving.” In the worry box, you put nothing. In the prayer box, you put everything. In the thanksgiving box, you put anything. If you put each of those things in the box where they belong, you will find when you are stressed out, God will take the stress out. May you rest in His peace today.
Dear Lord, I don’t want to be stressed out anymore. I don’t want to be consumed by worry and anxiousness about what’s going on around me. Instead, I want to experience your overwhelming comfort and peace. So help me when I’m tempted to worry to instead pray about everything and have a thankful heart. In Jesus’ name. amen.