There are certain things in this life which we can control, and others which God alone is to handle. For instance, while we are to control how we respond to others, we cannot control how they respond to us (Rom. 12:18). We are to control how we react to authority, but we can’t control how they react to us (Rom. 13:17).
Those who struggle with worry have a tendency to be anxious about the things they can’t control. In so doing, their attention is often diverted from the things they can (and should) control.
That is why, for the one who is anxious, this second principal is so important. Change your mind, not your circumstances.
God controls your circumstances (Dan. 4:34-35), but he expects you to control your mind (Phil. 4:8). So if you struggle with worry, you will have to change the way you think.
The worrier has a tendency to let his mind run wild. Like a scared child running in a dark forest, every shadow is a potential enemy. The anxious person tends to believe that if he can think about something in advance he can avoid it. Yet, God controls our circumstances, we need to bring our thoughts captive, and trust him with our future.
I have found one verse to be the most helpful in the retraining of the worrier’s thought patterns.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8)
Years ago I realized that the 8 qualities within this verse were to set the parameters on my thinking. If something was true, honorable, or right I could dwell on it. If it was not, I should not. This is great help for the one who worries. Most of what we worry about doesn’t actually come to pass, hence it is not true.
Perhaps you are thinking, “But the things I am worrying about actually could come to pass.” Yes, but they haven’t, and the worrier usually thinks about events in the future with certainty not possibility. He tends to think about future things as if they are true, when in fact they have not and quite possibly will not, occur.
I like to imagine that these 8 qualities were intended to form the parameters on my thinking. They are 8 walls within in which I am given complete freedom to think. Within those 8 walls it is impossible to jeopardize my communion with God. Unfortunately, you and I often desire riskier thinking.
The picture of a stop sign served as a great reminder to control my thinking. It is good when I’m thinking within the parameters. When I am not, it is good to say, “Stop! Think on these things.”
By the way, anxious thoughts cannot occur inside the parameters. So come on now, “Stop! Think on these things.”
For additional thoughts on the subject go to: http://philmoser.com/2011/11/18/the-effect-of-scripture-on-the-mind/