What the Bible Says about Dealing with Anxiety

I have a stressful job. In fact, U.S News & World Report’s 2022 survey ranking the top 25 most stressful jobs lists the job of a lawyer as the second most stressful job in America. On top of that, I am a trial lawyer, which is by far the most stressful of lawyer jobs.

There are many reasons being a trial lawyer is stressful, including the public speaking and arguing and that millions of dollars can be at stake, depending on how well one performs. It’s a lot of responsibility. I once lost 20 pounds during a two week trial, and it wasn’t because I was working out more.

Someone else who knew something about stress was the Apostle Paul. Paul was imprisoned, beaten on multiple occasions and often in danger of being killed, was stoned, shipwrecked three times, and once spent 36 hours floating in the open sea, wondering whether he would be rescued or drown. See 2 Cor. 11:23-25.

In addition to these external stressors, Paul had the daily pressure of responsibility for the churches he had planted or oversaw. 2 Cor. 11:28. It’s hard to imagine another person, save Jesus, who has lived a more stressful life than Paul.

Here is what Paul said about how to deal with stress:

Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Paul commands three steps for dealing with stress. First, he says to “Be anxious for nothing.” Some say you can’t tell someone not to worry because worry can’t be controlled, but f we couldn’t choose not to worry, Paul never would have commanded it. We can choose not to indulge in worrisome thoughts just as we can choose not to indulge in lustful ones.

Next, Paul says we are to give thanks to the Lord. Giving thanks creates perspective. It puts those things we have blown out of proportion back in their proper place.

Lastly, we are to petition God. This is where we pray specifically about the situation we chose moments before not to worry about and ask for God’s insight, power, and grace to deal with it. We are, in effect, casting our cares upon Him. See I Peter 5:7.

What happens next is the supernatural part: the peace of God will wash over you and guard your heart and your mind. But the peace of God can only fill our heart and mind once we have chosen not to let worry to fill them. Peace and worry don’t mix; they are antithetical to one another.

I have been returning to this three step process for most of my adult life. In fact, I did so again last week when I was in the middle of very large, contentious lawsuit I am defending for a client. And you know what? It worked just like it always has worked.

So, next time you feel your stomach start to knot up, or stress start to invade your body, read Philippians 4:6-7, and go through these steps, one-by-one, and then enjoy the peace that surpasses all understanding. GS

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