It’s been said that anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.
We rock in anxiety over finances, health, family, opportunities, decisions, schedules, marriages, singleness, the future, and on I could go ad nauseum.
Even when things are going too well in life we can get anxious that something terrible is just around the corner.
Anxiety keeps us busy, self-absorbed and profits nothing.
So how do you get out of the rocking chair of anxiety and into the path of peace?
“Rejoice always,” commanded the old, lonely, and beat-up Apostle Paul entering his second year in a Roman prison (Philippians 4:4).
He knew from experience that anxiety does not rob your joy. Robbed joy causes your anxiety.
True joy is found only in God. God alone is revealed as our complete source of joy, even our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:5).
This is joy that’s cosmic, not circumstantial.
This Joy holds confidence that God will hold you. Sustain you. Get you through anything you face.
With God, you can choose joy as an attitude, a mindset, for whatever comes at you in life.
God will take all evil you committed, or committed against you, and bend it back toward His glory, your good, and other’s joy.
Bank on it. And rejoice in it.
Pray without ceasing. This is walking in an awareness and consciousness of God’s love and presence with you.
Speaking of God, Isaiah said, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You” (Isaiah 26:3).
Praying without ceasing is keeping your thoughts fixed on God. Only then will deep peace become yours.
Prayer especially involves gratitude. Thanking God for His love, presence, and hope no matter your circumstances, lifts your mind off your circumstances.
Take a deep breath. Exhale thanksgiving to God, and you’ll inhale hope in God.
Anxiety involves your thought life.
Scripture speaks much more about thinking than feeling. We wrongly let anxious feelings dictate our thinking. Yet right thinking leads to victory over anxious feelings.
What to think, then?
Whatever is true, worthy of respect, morally clean and unsoiled, kind and gracious, courageous and respectful, anything showcasing excellence and celebration, dwell on those things. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9).
Every phrase above is a portrait of Jesus Himself.
This thinking not only lifts you out of the rocking chair but helps keep you out of it.
Discontentment surfaces when you are defeated by your circumstances, disappointed with what you don’t have, and dissatisfied with what you do have.
On the other hand, contentment is when you can say about anything: “Take it or leave it.”
It’s detaching from your circumstances and not taking them too seriously.
It’s being a victor instead of a victim.
This doesn’t mean you enjoy your bad circumstances. Rather, it’s the ability to be content and at peace regardless of your circumstances.
How is this possible?
The Apostle Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
This is not stoicism or self-help.
I can do.
I can do all.
I can do all things!
It’s infinitely more.
It’s the confidence that you can encounter, experience, and endure all things through Christ who is your everything.
In the words of Tim Keller, this means you can face any lack, horror, weakness without it destroying you, or any success without it getting to you.
Christ gives you strength to face it all—celebration or humiliation, full heart or broken heart, a lack or a lot.
Corey Ten Boom, a christian responsible for rescuing hundreds of Jews from the Nazi regime in WWII, and after being captured and sent to a concentration camp, declared:
“You may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
Behind the apostle Paul’s words in Scripture is that he too had to come to the absolute end of himself, his strength, and his resources. And when he did, He discovered Jesus was enough.
Only when you’re sickened of the rocking chair and convinced that Jesus is enough will you find the joy and peace you crave.