Responding to Worry with Joy
Since circumstances are beyond our control, we must choose to confront our circumstances with joy. It’s a choice!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Apostle Paul gives a challenge to believers to live with joy. This sentiment has been echoed through the book of Philippians. Paul understood what he faced (possible death), and also what the believers at Philippi faced (persecution). And yet, he exhorted, challenged, and reminded them to rejoice! Philippians 3:1 says “In addition, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a safeguard for you”. Why did Paul give the repeated commands to rejoice?
Life Pulls at our Joy
Life has a way of obstructing our view so that we only see our opposition and problems. Because of our focus, we miss the opportunity in the midst of the opposition! What opportunity?
In order for joy to be impacting , it has to show up in unwelcomed and surprising places. Worry, pain, frustration, loss, etc. doesn’t expect to see joy. But in order for it to be visible, joy has to show up in unusual places. Even when it’s hard, we choose joy!
Now, that choice doesn’t mean we are pretending life isn’t difficult. It isn’t ignoring the challenges that each of us face. Choosing joy means that we intentionally invite joy into the difficulty of life. And based on our understanding of God’s Word, we make the choice to choose joy in all circumstances.
Worry Belongs in its Place
Paul continues, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
When we invite our joy to show up in unwelcomed places, it aids us in properly handling our worry. Our first response is to choose joy. Our second is to choose God.
Choosing God means that we make a conscious choice to pray about everything! All of us need to pray more. Paul is encouraging us to pray always. To pray without ceasing. To always have a mind and heart to pray in spite of the circumstances in life. It’s a moment by moment choice.
We are not equipped to handle life’s difficulties. We can’t allow worry, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, frustration to become the focus of our minds.
Choose God by allowing Him to handle the challenges. We choose to place them in His hands.
Choose Joy! Choose God! Finally, Choose Peace!
Peace Fits us Best
When we put our problems in God’s hands, we exchange those problems for God’s peace! And prayer is the tool we use to make the exchange. As we put our worry in the hands of the only One who can handle it, we gain peace from the only One who can give it. God makes the difference.
Have you ever bought something without trying it on? It looked like it fit in the store, but when you got home, you couldn’t zip it. What did you do, then? You took it back and exchanged it. But this time, you took your time, perhaps even trying it on to ensure a better fit.
Beloved, haven’t you worn “worry: long enough? It doesn’t fit you, Child of God. Haven’t you seen and experienced how worry wears you down? It’s time for an exchange! Take your worry back and exchange it for some peace!
Stop wearing what wears you down, and choose peace! Peace is lighter!
CHOOSE JOY! CHOOSE GOD! CHOOSE PEACE!
Pray this week:
Dear Lord, we thank you for the reminder of our choices. We thank you for speaking into our lives today. Lord, we struggle with fret, worry, and the concerns we carry daily. We know this isn’t Your desire for our lives. Please guide us and grant us courage to exchange the worry for your peace! We gladly and gratefully receive Your peace. In Christ name, Amen.
How has worry impeded your joy and growth as a believer? How will you respond to life’s challenges going forward?