Antidotes for Anxiety7 min read

“Rejoice in the Lord; 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. Finally, brothers, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4–9).

Anxious moments. How do we deal with them? There are a lot of anxious moments happening in the world around us. According to Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD*, here are some of the top anxiety statistics for 2022:

  • Anxiety levels usually peak between the ages of 40 and 59.
  • Panic disorders affect over 6 million people in the US.
  • Antidepressant use increases with age, with 19% of those over 60 taking medication.
  • 6% of the population have anxiety, as per anxiety statistics worldwide from 2020.
  • Four in ten US adults have depression or anxiety symptoms due to the pandemic.
  • 8% of children and teenagers worldwide have an anxiety disorder.
  • 2 million Americans have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • 25 million people in the EU have anxiety, as per stats on anxiety prevalence.
  • 19 million American have specific phobias.

I would like to suggest the Pauline method to deal with anxious moments in our lives. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul tells us in the Bible text above. Here are some Gospel-empowered approaches to deal with anxious moments in our lives gleaned from our text above. These approaches have certainly helped me when I experience anxious moments.

1. Rejoice in the Lord

When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. He had very few friends to comfort and console him. In addition, he had some real enemies he had to cope with. But, in spite of this, the Letter of Philippians, which comprises only 4 chapters, has the words “joy” and “rejoice” appearing something like 14 times! Joy just permeates the book of Philippians. He was rejoicing in the Lord or you could say, by means of the Lord. It’s all because of what Christ did for us by His death and resurrection. It’s an inside job. It is unlike happiness, which is external based on things that we experience outside of us. It’s an inside job through the power of Christ. But how do we describe this sense of joy? Here’s how one commentator describes this concept of joy: “When he [Paul] talked of joy he was, in reality, describing a settled state of mind characterized by ειρήνη ( “peace”), an attitude that viewed the world with all of its ups and downs with equanimity, a confident way of looking at life that was rooted in faith (της πιστεως), that is, in a keen awareness of and trust in the living Lord of the Church … Again and again the command is, “Rejoice in the Lord” … Hence, for Paul joy is more than a mood or an emotion. Joy is an understanding of existence that encompasses both elation and depression, that can accept with creative submission events which bring delight or dismay because joy allows one to see beyond any particular event to the sovereign Lord who stands above all events and ultimately has control over them” (Gerald Hawthorne, Word Biblical Commentary–Philippians).

2. Shine with generosity

Paul tells us “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” The word translated “reasonableness” is επιεικές in the original Greek. It appears 5 times in the New Testament. And frankly, it’s a difficult word to translate. It can mean “magnanimity, largeness of spirit, gentleness, reasonableness, compassion, generosity.” Paul wants this to stand out in relationships to others. So, I say, let your life shine with generosity towards others! By doing this (with the enabling power of the crucified and resurrected Christ!), we actually begin to reduce unnecessary stress levels within ourselves.

Perhaps you are unconvinced that you have any significant moments of anxiety in your life. Peter Steinke, in his book, Uproar—Calm Leadership in Anxious Times (2019), says: “No cohort of people have had to live with such velocity and reach of change as those who are currently living. If you would check a thesaurus, you would find these companion words for tumult: messy, vulgar, strident, confusion, disorderly, noisy, and turbulent. We are living at a time not like any other … We Americans are an anxious lot, with nearly forty million suffering an anxiety disorder. In the World Mental Health survey, Americans were the most anxious people in the fourteen countries studied, even more than people in Nigeria, Lebanon, and Ukraine. According to Google Trends, the number of web searches for the term anxiety has doubled in the last five years. College students are said to be more apprehensive than ever before. In her book, iGEN, Professor Jean Twenge surprisingly discovered that the iGeners “seem terrified.” Perhaps it is not facetious to say, as one commentator has, that we can make a strong case for being gold medalists in the Anxiety Olympics.”

3. Pray

Dr. Joseph Goldberg, MD, from the WebMD Medical Reference, offers this as a lifestyle change to help excessive worriers: Meditate. Daily meditation—instead of worrying—may help you move beyond negative thoughts and allow you to become ‘unstuck’ from worries that keep your body on high alert. With meditation, you purposely pay attention to what is happening at the present moment without thinking of the past or future. Meditation decreases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are released during the ‘fight or flight’ or stress response.”

Paul would offer prayer. And that prayer would include a daily meditation on God’s Word. Our District President, Rev. Dave Davis, is encouraging people to establish an ethic of reading (or listening to) the entire Bible through in one year. In addition, in our prayers we can daily utilize the acrostic guide of ACTS:





As we immerse ourselves in God’s Word and pray to Him, God’s grace and love will shine, and His peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The word for guard (φρουρεω) is a military term used by Paul in this letter to the Philippians. One of the main functions of the city of Philippi was to keep the peace on the edges of the Roman empire. What God’s peace does in the person of Christ is to give us a sense of Shalom and protection. I call this pure Grace that alleviates unnecessary stress and anxious moments in our lives.

4. Reframe your perspective

As Paul suggests (“whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable….”), why not, by the power and grace of God, change our perspective, from negative thoughts to positive thoughts, to replace “hot” thoughts with “cool” thoughts. I read somewhere that the words “think, thought, mind” appears something like 300 times in Scripture. What would it be like if every morning we woke up and put a pile of dirt in the tank of our cars and expect it to go somewhere? Sometimes that’s what we do with our thought patterns in life. I noticed my wife wrote on a 3X5 card from a book she was reading: “Every time you resist negative emotions and choose positive ones, you are actually rewiring your brain to be more positive and loving.” I would suggest that the Lord and, specifically, the Holy Spirit, enables us to do this very thing.

5. Put it into practice

“These things do or practice” Paul tells us. Remember the Nike expression: “Just Do It.” That’s the problem. We can’t just do it. Not by ourselves, or depending totally upon ourselves. But the crucified and risen Lord forgives us, renews, and empowers us to put into practice these things!

Thank the Lord for these antidotes from Paul to replace our anxious moments in life!

*As published in the blog

Photo © Keoni K/Lightstock

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About the Author

Rev. Kenneth Huner serves as the Dean of Instruction for the Michigan District's Michigan School of Missional Formation.

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Joel Kaiser - July 26, 2023

Thank you to Ken Huner for putting this article together–great appreciated!! I like the concept of offering some “antidotes” for something that has the potential to have such a negative impact on our lives–great guidance! Well done!