Do you know that peace of mind and the sheer joy in being alive is within your reach regardless of your circumstances? If you’re a Christian all you need is an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude and giving thanks is good medicine.
Recent scientific research suggests that positive emotions, such as gratitude and love, strengthen and enhance the immune system, enabling the body to resist disease and recover more quickly from illness, through the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Among other effects, they stimulate dilation of the blood vessels, which leads to a relaxed heart.
What this means is that the more we experience a sense of gratitude, we literally bathe ourselves in good hormones, feel healthier, happier, more peaceful and content with our lives. Like most great spiritual truths, gratitude is stunningly simple. This is not to say it’s necessarily easy to practice. The most common hindrance to personal peace and joy is anxiety.
The apostle Paul prepared a practical prescription, an antidote to anxiety in Philippians 4:4-7.
“Rejoice in the Lord all ways; and again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Like any prescription, it’s necessary to follow these four simple steps as directed.
First, we are commanded, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” This requirement focuses our thoughts and emotions beyond your circumstances to God’s greatness and goodness. We can rejoice because he’s in control. Singing, listening to praise music or “making a melody or heart” is a great way to praise the Lord always. This step is so important that we are reminded “again I say rejoice”.
The second step in taking this prescription is found in the words “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” The word moderation could be better translated “gentleness of speech”. In other words, we are not to complain, express negativity to others, about our circumstances.
Third, the apostle admonishes us “be anxious for nothing” or “don’t worry”. Someone once said, “Worry, like a rocking chair, gives us something to do, but it won’t get us anywhere.” Anxiety is not a benign activity, however. It pillages our peace, robs our joy, and steals our hope. We must deliberately and persistently resist anxiety, and war against worry.
The final application in the antidote against anxiety requires that we can take everything to God in prayer. There nothing too great for God’s power; and nothing too small for His Fatherly care. Notice how we are to pray. Our prayers and petitions are to be submitted to God “with thanksgiving”. Our gratitude is not for presumed answers to our prayers, but for the petitions themselves. Our needs provide God the opportunity to show Himself glorious.
There’s a promise when this prescription is taken: “the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts (i.e., emotions) and your mind (i.e., thoughts) through Christ Jesus.” The one who is in the habit of praising God for His goodness will find himself overcoming many of the emotional, mental and spiritual problems that plague others.