Bible Verse: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Bible Reading: 1 Peter 5:6-7
We have talked about fear and anger as things that will pull you from God’s peace. Today, we will finish this week’s devotionals with one more thing that attacks peace in our lives: anxiety.
Some of you may be wondering, “Aren’t fear and anxiety the same thing?” They are similar, but the distinction is worth noting. While there are several more detailed definitions to explain fear and anxiety, I would like to give you a “reader’s digest” version of these definitions.
Fear is an immediate or quick reaction to a perceived threat, while anxiety is more focused on worrying about a potential threat that hasn’t happened or may never happen.
I think we all know how prevalent anxiety is in our world. It is gripping men, especially young men, in greater ways than ever before, but it is certainly not limited to those who are “less seasoned” in life. I have felt the pressure of anxiety as well. It can quickly flood your heart and mind, leaving you out of peace and even feeling lost.
Well, we come full circle back to the verse we started with at the beginning of this week. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). How can we feel less anxious? We pray…with thanksgiving! I like this phrase that Paul adds to highlight something really important for us.
I recently watched an Instagram reel discussing some science behind the finding that gratitude reduces anxiety. While I haven’t personally seen the scientific data, my gut and experience tell me it’s correct. Why? When we are thankful, we focus on good things happening in the present and past and not on potentially bad things that may or may not occur in the future. Sometimes, reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness in the past helps us feel more peaceful about God’s faithfulness in the present and the future.
Being thankful is good; praying with thanksgiving is better. Sometimes, we need to vent our soul, and what better way to do that than through prayer? I like what Peter wrote in his first letter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). God wants your cares and doesn’t want you to have them. The word cast means to throw or launch with force. It’s an intentional and intense prayer of giving God your anxieties and putting them so far out of our reach that we couldn’t get them back if we wanted to, like launching a rock into the lake and letting it sink deep, never to be found again.
I think that’s what God wants for us as men. Stress, pressure, fear, anxiety—they will all try to rob us of peace. But if we focus on God’s promises, His presence, His promises and His plans, I know we can have a much more peaceful life, home, church and workplace.
Reflection: What are a few things you are currently worried about? Will you bring them to the Lord right now? What are some things you are currently thankful for?
Prayer for you: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16
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