Wish we could turn back time
To the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep
But now we’re stressed out
— Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I thought we’d start off the New Year talking about stress. Why? Because, more than likely, you just went through a lot of it. And to be honest, I’d like to go through less this year.
In our culture, stress is an accepted and even expected part of life. But, God wants your new year to be stress-free. That’s what He says in the Bible, so we’re going to take a couple of weeks during this month of January and look at His solution.
“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 (ESV)
I am finishing my Master’s degree in seminary right now, and I love digging into the original languages of the Bible — in this case, the original Greek. So, I spent hours looking up how these words from Philippians 4 are used all over the Bible and other texts. I discovered that the beginning of this verse actually means, “Do not be anxious about anything.”
That’s right. It’s nothing complicated, at least in this translation. I was actually hoping for something spectacular in the Greek, because just trying not to be anxious in English isn’t working so well. The truth is, I am stressed. I’m stressed about family. I’m stressed about work. I’m stressed about health. I’m stressed about money. I’m stressed about stress.
Thankfully, God provides a plan. If we just look at the major clauses in these verses (sorry, I’m a grammar nerd), we will find three important points:
1. Do not be anxious.
2. Make your requests known to God.
3. The peace of God will guard your heart and mind.
So, the basic layout isn’t that difficult. Don’t do this, do this, and God will do this. The problem is, I’m always failing right at step one. Do not be anxious. But, I am!
Fortunately, the next word in Greek means “on the contrary,” or in simpler terms, “but.” God doesn’t leave us at, “Do not be anxious.” Instead, He gives us another option. “Let your requests be made known to God.”
Don’t dwell in your stress. Tell God about it.
Why? Am I informing Him? Does He not already know what I’m stressed about?
Sure He does. He knows. My telling Him isn’t doing anything for Him, instead it must be doing something for me. When I tell God about my need, my stress, and my anxiety, that’s the first step toward the solution…
…that only God can handle it.
“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
I wish I could tell you how many times people have asked me to explain the “peace that surpasses all understanding,” but I can’t. It transcends ALL understanding. It’s not going to make sense. Having peace in the midst of trouble doesn’t make sense. Nonetheless, it’s exactly what God promises.
So, this year, don’t stress. Tell God about it. He’ll help you.
Check back next week as I dig into some overlooked prepositional phrases in these verses from Philippians, which have really made a difference for me in my walk with God.