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Be Anxious for Nothing ...
It is so easy to say: just trust.Do not be anxious. Doing it is another matter altogether. How do you cultivate trust? How do you release anxiety?

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Sunday morning, I slip into church. I join in the singing, but my mind opens a ledger sheet, where I run numbers: our bills on one side, our limited assets on the other. I'm adding up potential income from freelance projects and gnawing on the fact that the ledger's wildly unbalanced, all the while singing with the crowd, automatic and unthinking.

Suddenly the lyrics in my mouth break through: "more than enough." My voice catches on the words and I hear a question: do you believe this? I'm shattered, broken. Do the words of my mouth match the meditations of my heart? No. My heart is fearful, anxious. As the song ends, the worship leader reminds us that the peace of God is available, should we want to grab hold. We read together in one voice:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phi. 4:6-7).

It is so easy to say: just trust. Do not be anxious. As Jesus commanded, "Do not worry." Doing it is another matter altogether. How do you cultivate trust? How do you release anxiety?

The question matters—especially as we consider how we are to care for our souls. Worry destroys our spirit, erodes our relationship with God. It infects our spiritual life, a virus that drains life from our souls.

We can pray, study Scripture, serve, attend worship. These practices will do little if, like me standing in church last Sunday, we're clinging to our worries. We clutch them. Like rocks in our hands, cutting into our palms, keeping us from opening ourselves to what God wants to give us, to provide for us.

I sensed God telling me to open my hands, drop the sharp rocks of worry and anxiety. His word to the world, his word to our church, was also his word to me, "Do not be anxious." Tears streamed as I slowly opened my hands, know that he wanted to give me good things, but my hands were too full to receive them. Turning my helpless palms up, I presented my requests to God.

I know the path to the peace that passes understanding. It is not a path of effort, of forcing oneself to be peaceful (a picture of contradiction to be sure). Rather, it comes from gratitude. Look at the text: "Do not be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving …"

The antidote for anxiety is prayer—not just prayers that tell God of our anxiety, but prayers of thanksgiving. The Greek, eucharistia, means not just perfunctory thanks, but deep gratitude. My Bible dictionary notes: "this prayer expresses the grateful acknowledgment of past mercies as distinct from seeking future ones." To pray with thanksgiving, with eucharistia, is to remember the goodness of God in your life. Such gratitude is the only path out of anxiety.

When we are grateful, focused on the gifts of God, we experience joy. We're able to be generous. Gratitude and generosity lead us to peace, allow us to trust. When we choose to pray with thanksgiving, with gratitude, we see clearly: mixed in with the troubles of this world, we have blessings, and we have God's presence, his peace that passes understanding.

Keri Wyatt Kent is a speaker, Bible teacher and author of nine books, including Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 New Testament Words. Connect with her at www.keriwyattkent.com

© Keri Wyatt Kent

Topics:Character, Experiencing God, Fruit of the spirit, Prayer, Presence of God, Pursuit of God, Reflection, Spiritual Disciplines, Thankfulness, Worship
Filters:Children's ministry, Children's pastor, Pastor, Spiritual director, Worship, Worship leader

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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Julie C

May 07, 2015  3:37pm

Wow...now i pratically understand the hidden truth in this verse...truly am relieved and forever blessed.thanx for elucidating this perfectly.

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Barb Stidham

December 11, 2012  12:43pm

I appreciate this article as it is a good reminder about the antidote for anxiety is prayer....including prayers of thanksgiving. Praise the Lord for HIS peace that follows and it is peace that surpasses all understanding!!!!

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Robin Martin

April 19, 2012  9:58am

I think this author has hit the nail on the head. In my experience of heartache and brokenness, I remembered God says to give thanks in all situations. It almost seemed mean of God to require that, but as I began to comply, I noticed what the writer decribed - gratitude brings joy, it strengthens trust, it makes me aware of how much is right and it puts a boundary around what is wrong. The way I see it, God has given us gratitude as a ladder out of the pit of misery. We are instructed to give thanks, to be thankful people, not because it does something for God but because it does something for us that we desperately need - it changes us from being victims and reminds us that we are beloved children of a ttrustworthy father. It gives us a different perspective on our troubles. I appreciated this writer and this article.

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tang wong

April 01, 2012  3:48am

just relax and rest on God. He is always the master of our going out n coming in.

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February 17, 2012  10:51am

Give Jesus ALL your anxieties. Not easy as we ALL know, but that is one of the reasons we need Jesus. Know that Jesus is there ALL the time.

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