“Don’t worry,” people say. I do, anyway. They try, “You shouldn’t worry.” That doesn’t work, either. It makes it worse. Now I’m worried about being worried!
I’ve tried many things to quell my anxiety, to no avail. Attempting to steer my thoughts in another direction leaves me wanting solutions, and engaging distractions delays the inevitable.
I am sure that you have some advice for me, but is it as good as Paul’s? Paul knows that this is a battle for our minds. He also knows that there is a real and permanent solution. It starts with taking our thoughts captive.
Once we identify that our thoughts have gone astray, we must do something with them. Since we can just forget them, we need to transform them. In Philippians 4:8, Paul hands us a simple framework. In this situation, what is:
True – consider what is true from a Biblical context. Truth exposes lies
Honorable – what is correct and righteous
Just – right, equitable
Pure – free from defilement, holy, sacred
Lovely – what is beautiful, pleasing, and agreeable
Commendable – well reported of, spoken in a kindly spirit, laudable, reputable
Excellent – moral goodness and virtue
Worthy of praise – what would God be proud of
Every time I filter my worry through these words, it resolves. Not because I have put it off or quenched it with a temporary elixir but because I’ve brought it into the light. The darkness dissolves, and I find peace. At that moment, I see clearly that the Lord is at hand (v5), and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guards my heart and mind (v7).