Help for Worriers
From zealous Jewish scholar and Pharisee, turned violent anti-Christian terrorist, to becoming the world’s most famous preacher of Christ for all time, the apostle Paul abruptly discovered it was all about Jesus and not about him.
His singular focus was on knowing Jesus more and more, experiencing His power, and being willing to suffer the deepest scorn and loss in order to have all of that. That’s what is in store for every follower of Jesus Christ who learns this important lesson.
The Philippians lived in turbulent times. Much like we do today, it was easy to not only be discouraged, but also be anxious about the future. “Enemies of the cross” also slipped into their company to lure them back into bondage to sin (3:10-19). What’s the answer, then and now? Look to Jesus and to the promise of eternity with Him, and keep Him as your aim, regardless of what happens on earth.
Grace always has enemies. You may have people like that in your life. Jesus calls you to resist them in His name and continue to run the race with the assurance of the prize of eternal life waiting for anyone who keeps their focus on Him. Someday, you will not only be with Him, you will be like Him! That’s the prize for running the race of faith.
Here’s some down-to-earth advice on how to combat worry and fear in anxious times.
The Christian life is powerless without joy. This joy comes only and fully from our walk with Jesus and from the love we share with each other. When we respond joyfully to trouble, this shines the light of Jesus to unbelievers around us. That’s why our response as followers of Jesus to our own difficult times carries such enormous impact—especially when people see the joy of the Lord in us.
If we do this, we will know pure joy. Joy is the goal, not gloom and despair the way many experience church life. The goal is to know the pure joy of a deep relationship with Jesus so we don’t give in to the temptation to despair. In fact, God commands us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (4:4). Over and over, joy should prevail no matter the circumstances. Whether it’s dark or bright, difficult or sublime, chock full of trouble or lined with blues skies and smooth sailing, the believer’s heart can rejoice. What a vision for our lives.
What’s the key to trading our anxiety for the peace that comes from knowing Jesus? It’s prayer. Simply talk to Jesus about those things that made you anxious. Instead of worrying about everything (and who doesn’t do that from time to time?), pray about everything. That’s where the peace comes from.
This powerful peace not only guards your emotions (your heart) but also places a protective shield around your thoughts. Wouldn’t you rather think peaceful thoughts instead of anxious ones? Prayer is the answer—and the joy of the Lord won’t follow far behind the prayers. ~J. Vernon. McGee