This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. Our instruction for this comes from Philippians 4:4-7 and to this point, I have shared 2 of the 5 ways, let's review. #1 - Rejoice and repeat. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Phil 4:4)." Because you and I are wired with a negativity bias we need to make repeated efforts to take joy and express it. Ultimately, we must seek the only source in which joy is always available, God Himself.
#2 - The right reasons lead to the right reactions. "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5)" In such a high-pressure society, anger, stress, and worry seem natural, almost expected. But taking joy in the Lord leads to a reaction that is gentle, reasonable. "The Lord is at hand." That in itself is sufficient reason to rejoice.
So now let's digest the third way we can stay happy all day. Reject anxiety.
#3 - Reject Anxiety
Statistics show that anxiety is America's most common mental illness. And yes, anxiety is classified as a mental illness. There are numerous causes of anxiety from brain chemistry, to diet, to having a difficult time dealing with life events. The good news is that while anxiety is very common, it is also highly treatable. The Bible agrees.
So let's consider our passage again.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7
"Do not be anxious about anything." That's quite a statement and it may seem a little simplistic, perhaps even offensive for those who truly suffer from anxiety. But let's be careful to discern that statement. The statement is NOT saying:
- If you have anxiety then you must not be a Christian.
- If anxiety does not go away it is because of a lack of faith.
- Nothing should cause you anxiety.
- Anxiety is sin.
What the Bible IS saying is that you don't have to obey anxiety.
A Biblical Definition of Anxiety
If I were going to build a definition of anxiety from the context of this passage, I would say that anxiety is misplaced joy. Anxiety is trying to draw joy from things that cannot possibly, consistently produce joy.
Notice the interplay of the words "anything" and "everything" in the passage. "Do not be anxious about anything." Because anxiety won't fix it, heal it, help it, or remove it. Jesus gave us a fantastic teaching on the failure of anxiety to produce desired results in Matthew 6:25-34. "But in everything by prayer . . ."
The Bible is not saying that you won't have anxiety. The Bible is telling you what to do with anxiety. Reject it. Take your anxiety over "anything" and turn it over to God in prayer about "everything."
Realize and Reject Anxiety
I stated previously that in the context of Philippians 4, anxiety is misplaced joy. It is trying to draw joy from things that cannot possibly, consistently, produce joy. I give a full treatment of this in my post entitled The Guarantee of a Good Day, but here are 5 realizations of misplaced expectations that will help you reject anxiety.
- I don't have to rely on others to make me happy.
- I don't need anything other than what I already have to make me happy.
- I don't have to be perfect to be happy.
- I don't have to understand everything to be happy.
- I don't have to sin to be happy.
If you rely on others to make you happy, you will have anxiety. If you need more, you'll never have enough to make you happy. So you're not perfect. We already knew that. But if you think you have to be mistake-free to be happy, you will have anxiety. If you think that life has to be fair, and when it isn't you at least have to have it figured out; guess what - you'll have anxiety. If you think that there is more pleasure in disobeying God than in obeying God, you'll only find fleeting pleasure and high anxiety.
If you want to be happy all day, reject anxiety. You may have anxiety, but you don't have to obey it.
Read Jesus' teaching about the futility of anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34.
- What commands are to be obeyed?
- What promises are to be believed?
- What principles are to be applied?
Over the next 5 days, prayerfully seek to identify the triggers of your anxiety. Prayerfully identify any unrealistic expectations or misplaced joy that may be the cause of that anxiety. Journal a daily prayer about those anxieties and record God's answers to your prayer.