Monday, March 19, 2007

Philippians 4:6

"In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (ASV)

Anxiety, worry, stress... In today's world we know these terms well. Doctors are constantly warning us about the health effects of stress. Cause for worry? For some it is. Turning on the news for only five minutes is enough to make us anxious about what tomorrow may hold. Climate change, nuclear arms, terrorism and war are the headlines of the day.

The days of the early Christian church were no less stressful. While it's true that most of today’s concerns were unheard of at the time, they had plenty to worry about. They could be imprisoned or simply stoned to death for sharing the gospel. Food did not come prepackaged in cellophane wrappers with conveniently stamped expiration dates, and when they got it home there was no refrigerator to put it in. There were no vaccinations and little medical knowledge to keep the ravages of disease at bay. Work did not involve sitting in a chair for a mere eight hours a day and then returning home to your family. There was no pension fund to support them in their old age. Still, Paul knew about the ultimate source of stress-relief.

"In nothing be anxious," he wrote to the church at Philippi. Don't stress. Don't worry. If something is bothering you, let God handle it. Good advice, even today. God wants to handle things for us. He wants to calm our fears. He wants us to acknowledge His sovereignty in all situations. He desires that we come to him with our worries and struggles, not at a last resort when we've tried everything else, but as soon as trouble crops up.

Of course, once we’ve given something to God in prayer, we need to step back and leave it with Him. We need to realize that the burden of worry is no longer ours to bear. Since God is a sovereign and loving God, He will handle it for us. This is often the tricky part of the equation, but it’s crucial if we want to release our stress.

What is it that you're anxious over today? It could be something as big as global warming, as personal as your performance review coming up at work, or as small as the blemish you’ve just noticed on your face. It doesn't matter. God can handle anything, no matter the size. Why not give it to Him? Why not let it go?

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