In America, Dr Walter Calvert once undertook a study on why people worry so much. And his research showed some interesting figures:
- 40% of our worries never come to anything
- 30% concern the past
- 12% of our worries have to do with needless concerns about our health
- 10% are petty concerns
- 8% were the only legitimate concerns.
Interesting figures, aren’t they? Many books and articles are written about worry, and some of us are real ‘worry worts’. But when it’s all boiled down, only 8% of our concerns are worth anything. Yet we spend so much time fretting. Worry cannot change the past, and unfortunately it destroys our joy and peace today. It’s not really worth the energy expended or the damage caused.
When we spend much time protecting ourselves from worry, like wrapping layers of protection around ourselves, we lose out on experiencing God’s grace. Instead of a sense of joy and contentment to meet each day’s issues, we are plagued with stress, anxiety, fear, doubt and sometimes depression.
The Scripture in Philippians has some good advice: “Rejoice in the Lord always…Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 heart and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7 – NIV).
Is There Any Value in Having a Gentle Attitude?
It’s certainly a radical alternative in a world where gentleness is often mistaken as softness or weakness. But Paul maintains we should pursue this instead of verbal or physical abuse. Many are angry today and hostility pours out in ugly ways which we read about each day in our newspapers. Becoming gentle actually means responding graciously to people because we look at life differently.
We know that God is in control of our world and of our own lives, therefore we don’t have to become angry or violent towards others. Everything will be OK because our God knows what he is doing. Jesus is our Lord and our security, and this knowledge frees us of the need to be always in control. If Jesus indwells your life, you will know his Spirit helps us stay calm in times of our own uncertainty. We can trust him for everything, even the small details of life.
Another good way of calming down those feelings of stress is to take prayer seriously. Philippians 4:6 (TLB) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.”
Prayer is a simple conversation with God, where we talk to him in a natural way about anything that bothers us. We don’t withdraw from the world to meet with him in prayer—it is being open to him every minute. Prayer is not meant to be a time for you to get sensations or feelings or experiences. It’s meant to be a natural process of allowing your best Friend to share your life.
And then “if you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand” (Philippians 4:7 – TLB). This is a supernatural experience. God’s peace comes from him, nowhere else. After all, if you have real worries, is it possible to still be at peace? With Christ, it is. Peace is the result of God at work in our lives. In other words, Jesus promises to guard our heart and mind with his own peace, and what can be better than that? His divine peace stops the return of anxiety and stress because it’s stronger and more reliable. Through prayer, we can stay calm and at peace even though there is concern or anxiety around us.
Billy Graham wrote his popular book Peace with God and gave the simple illustration of the storm that was raging. The sea was beating against the rocks in huge, dashing waves. The lightning was flashing, but a little bird was asleep in the crevice of a rock, its head under its wing, sound asleep. Asleep in the storm. That’s how it can be for us. Romans 5:1 (NIV) says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. God’s peace “will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 – TLB).