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5 Keys to Finding Peace in an Anxious World

5 Keys to Finding Peace in an Anxious World

It does not take much to realize that we live in anxious times. We feel anxious about politics, vaccine debates, the shrinking value of the dollar, and knowing that everything we say or do is offensive to somebody. Some think these are signs of the end, while others think that this is just the way things have become. The 24-hour news cycle keeps us on the edge of our seats anxiously awaiting the next tragedy, the next outrage, and the next thing to complain about on social media. Simply put, we live in a world that breeds, encourages, and fosters high levels of anxiety at every turn. In the midst of an anxious culture, we simply long for peace.

Yet this type of high-anxiety living is nothing new, as the early church also struggled against becoming an anxious people. They were caught in the midst of an unbelieving culture that had no place for them and offered no comfort or support for their beliefs. To accept Christ in that time was truly to become an enemy of the world that Christ came to save. It is harder to see in American culture, but across that world, it is still that way.

It is in this context that Paul writes the book of Philippians, and it is in chapter 4:5-7 that we receive a beautiful encouragement of how to remain peaceful in a turbulent, anxious world.

1. Rejoice!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"(v.4)

The first thing to do in an anxious world is to rejoice! The need to rejoice to so important that the Spirit leads Paul to say it twice, just in case you glossed over it the first time. When we begin to settle in to a rut and just ‘get through’ our life, we are missing out on the joy that is ours to embrace as children of God. We are saved by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus! No matter what this world throws at us, we are chosen and accepted children of God, and nothing can ever change who we are in Christ. Hope, peace, joy, love, and a future are forever ours. This life is an opportunity to celebrate the Eternal God of Heaven who desires us to seek him and know him in a deep and meaningful way. This assurance and comfort should lead us to start and end each joy in rejoicing.

2. Be Gentle

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." (v.5)

When we are anxious, we tend to be edgy and irritable. Yet God’s Word calls for just the opposite. Gentleness is listed as a fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:23 and might be the last thing we are feeling when anxiety creeps in. When we feel anxious, we can recognize it, and make the decision to allow the Spirit to influence our emotions and demeanor instead of allowing anxiety to sweep us away. As we turn instead to the Word and to prayer, we can embrace a gentleness that only comes from knowing Christ. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. When we seek to be gentle as Jesus is gentle, we will find rest and peace in him.

3. Pray and Ask God

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (v.6)

When we read what the Bible says, we can also consider what it does not say. The Bible does not say “try not to be anxious”, or “just be anxious sometimes”, or “a little anxiety isn’t so bad”. It says Do not be anxious. About anything. Thankfully, we then have a blueprint for how to do this, and it is through prayer and petition to God. We will find rest for our souls and relationship with God when we simply turn to Him in prayer and freely ask for whatever it is that we want, knowing that he will give us what it is that we need.

4. Give Thanks

The verse goes on to tell us to pray with thanksgiving. Sometimes thanking God for the things that are good in our lives will remind us that the things that are not so good are also in His command and that he is present, active, and actively working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Thankfulness is not just reserved for a holiday in November, nor for times of anxiety, but for every moment of every day! A thankful spirit will create in us a heart that is humble, gentle, and prepared for God to work in powerful ways.

5. Let God’s Peace Shape our Thoughts

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v.7)

This is a favorite verse so many people, and for good reason! It is an encouragement that God’s peace is well beyond any peace we can find in this world. Yet there is something else that stands out, the fact that our hearts must remain ‘guarded’ by this peace. This makes clear that peace is not just to give us a soothing and relaxed feeling, but it is designed to ward off an attack. Satan uses things such as fear and anger, which all lead to anxiety, to attack and wear down our faith.

"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." (v.8)

The final step is to keep our minds from wandering back to the things that made us anxious in the first place. As we spend time in prayer and thanks, we must allow God’s peace to rule in us by making the effort to focus on things of God. Without God’s peace guarding our hearts, we become wide open and exposed to these attacks. Yet we can find peace, God’s perfect peace, when we rejoice, pray, give thanks, and allow His peace to fill our minds and guard our hearts.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Tero Vesalainen

Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and member of the worship team at matthias lot church in St. Charles, MO. He spends his free time hanging out with his family, exploring new places, and writing about the experiences. Connect on Facebook or at JasonSoroski.net.