“May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 TEV).
In Philippians 4, Paul says, “May you always be joyful in your life in the Lord.” Can we really be joyful in all circumstances? The Bible suggests the following strategy:
Don’t worry about anything--Worrying doesn’t change anything. It’s stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That’s good news. The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned.
How do you unlearn it? Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). He’s saying don’t open your umbrella until it starts raining. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Live one day at a time.
Pray about everything--Next, instead of worrying, use your time for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a whole lot less to worry about. Some people think God only cares about religious things, such as how many people I invite to church or my tithing. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.
Thank God in all things--Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.
Think about the right things--If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think because the way you think determines how you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act, which is why the Bible teaches that, if you want to change your life, you need to change what you’re thinking about.
This involves a deliberate conscious choice where you change the channels. You choose to think about the right things. Because the root cause of stress is the way we choose to think, we need to focus on the positive and on God’s word.
What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul tells us the result is, “you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
What a guarantee!