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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Matthew 6:34 (MSG)
There are a lot of different kinds of anxieties; some are clinical and need professional intervention, some are “normal” and need coping strategies, and some anxieties are avoidable. But if we’re honest, we do a poor job setting ourselves up to overcome avoidable anxieties. Just to be clear, this devo isn’t about anxiety that needs clinical intervention, this is about the anxieties we could eliminate from our lives if we were more intentional about leaning into the guidance we read in scripture.
Let me explain. One of Paul’s most quoted passages is this one from Philippians. If I am honest, the most unhelpful advice I have ever heard when managing my own anxiety is, “Just don’t be anxious”—and at first glance, it seems like that’s what Paul is saying.
Honestly, Paul seems kind of out of touch in verses 6-7. I mean, he never had to deal with the realities of living in the 21st century and all the anxieties that come with it! But we can’t stop at verse 7, we need to read verse 8 to really see what Paul is talking about. He isn’t suggesting we just wish away our anxiety, rather he is telling us how we can live a life free of avoidable anxieties by keeping our hearts, minds, and souls focused on the right things.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out?” Yeah, my mom used to say that to me too. But she’s right. If I allow my heart and mind to consume music, movies, shows, conversations, images, and ideas that are not excellent or praiseworthy, I am not doing my part to shield against avoidable anxieties. Darkness has a way of lodging in our hearts, minds, and souls, and the results are fear, dread, and hopelessness. Anxiety thrives in darkness because darkness will never lead to peace… Only light can do that.
So, let’s follow the advice of Jesus and give our full attention to God. Allow Him to consume your heart, mind, and soul, experience His peace, and invite His presence to fill you with light.
Honestly examine the inputs into your heart, mind, and soul. What are you filling yourself with? Write those things down and determine whether they are bringing you hope and peace or fear and anxiety.
Be honest with God about your anxiety and ask Him to help you know what anxiety you can manage on your own and what anxiety you need someone to help with.
Share about your anxiety with a trusted friend and ask them to help you determine what things in your life might be causing you unnecessary anxiety.