The Antidote for Stress
Philippians 4:5bThe Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (NKJV)
Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi in Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It is thought that he wrote this during his first Roman imprisonment when he was under house arrest.
The time of the writing is about 62 A.D. Epaphroditus visited him in prison and Paul sent this letter back with him to deliver it to the church.
At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey.
Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.
The church at Philippi was the first known church in all of Europe and it supported Paul financially. In many ways it was a model church.
These are God’s words to Christians. These promises do not apply to unbelievers. God does not hear the prayers of unbelievers unless they are reaching out to him for salvation (John 9:31).
Paul begins this passage by writing “The Lord is at hand” (v. 5b). God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, is always “at hand”, always near. In fact, God the Holy Spirit lives inside every Christian. This is why Christians can even think our prayers and He will hear them.
Paul continues “Be anxious for nothing” (v. 6a). God does not want Christians to worry. Anxiousness leads to worry. God is always near, so we should not be anxious.
Next, Paul writes “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (v. 6b) As soon as we start to feel anxious about something we should immediately give that concern to the Lord through “prayer and supplication”. The word “supplication” is a big word that simply means to ask for something from God for ourselves.
We ask for God to take this anxiety away from us, and may His will be done in that particular situation. A good way to remember this is by the saying “let go – and let God.”
This does not mean that we should not do anything about our problems. It means that we should do all that we can, but then we should “let go” and leave the results up to God.
We cannot control results. Stress comes from worrying about something that we cannot control.
The Bible says to pray continuously. So we can give our concerns to God frequently throughout the day. When we pray, we should thank God (v. 6c) in advance for what He’s going to do.
We can thank God in advance because we know that He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). His answer to our prayer will be the best thing for us in the long run.
Next, Paul tells us what happens when we give everything over to Him in prayer. He writes “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v. 7). When we give our anxieties to God, He will give us His peace about that situation.
God may answer our prayers differently than what we asked for, but whatever the answer we know that His will is what is best for us.
God can answer yes, no, or wait. We all like “yes”, and we should always remember to immediately thank the Lord for His blessing.
The “no” is hard to take but we should, again, be thankful to God. He will always open another door. It may not be in our timing, but His timing is perfect.
God never closes a door without opening another. We just have to be observant of things. The new door will align with the teachings of the Bible.
We may not like the new door at first, but we should walk through it in faith. Faith means to believe that God is trustworthy. We should trust Him.
The “wait” can be frustrating, and we can keep praying until the answer is clear.
God’s nos and waits are difficult. But I am reminded of the song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.”
God always knows what is around the next corner or over the next hill, but we don’t. Looking back, I am very grateful that God has not answered some of my prayers.
Paul concludes this passage by writing “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (vv. 8-9).
Whenever we give our anxieties over to the Lord it leaves a void. Satan will fill this void with even more anxieties unless we are proactive.
So, we should fill this void with good thoughts, beautiful things, things that will make us happy, and God’s promises from the Bible. When we do this, God will again give us His perfect peace.
In conclusion, when you give your concerns to the Lord visualize lifting them off your shoulders and laying them at the feet of God. This will take a great weight off of you. You will feel the stress lifting. This is the antidote for stress.
Do not make the mistake of taking your concerns back. Leave them permanently with God. In exchange God will give you peace about those matters. That’s a pretty good trade!
Online Bible Commentary