Anxiety. Almost all of us have struggled with it at some point in our lives. Some of us more so than others. I am one who has experienced anxiety in such a way where it brought me down to my knees. I can joke about it now, but understand that I really GET IT. I have been there. Anxiety is really no laughing matter.
Ironically, I think some of the most quoted but most frustrating verses in Scripture dealing with anxiety are Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious, about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
OK, I love these verses, but they might not be the best to pull out when someone is having a panic attack. At that point, the anxiety train has left the station. And I always wondered how in the world Paul had the audacity to tell me not to worry, as if I was choosing to be anxious. Doesn’t he know I can’t help it? He doesn’t know how my hands are sweating, my heart is racing, how I want to cry, and how my brain is on a constant loop of worst case scenarios. Or does he? Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:28 in the ESV, “And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Even the apostle Paul struggled with anxiety.
I began to wonder what I was “doing” wrong? I was begging the LORD to give me peace, and yet I still freaked out all the time. I was praying, I was petitioning. I got to the point where I said, “LORD I will even thank you for this crazy girl drama if it means I will get peace. LORD, if I am about to die from a rare fictitious infection stemming from a slight throbbing on my ear lobe, I will thank you I had the ear in the first place.” (Y’all don’t act like I am the only hypochondriac around here!!) LORD, please just give me some peace!
In all seriousness, if I am in Christ why am I still walking around worried and anxious all the time? Does it mean I don’t trust Him? What am I missing?
First… I finally realized that I can’t do it in my own strength. We need his Holy Spirit to give us that peace. The more I tried to manufacture it, the more I failed. Before you roll your eyes saying that’s not practical, wait for it. And remember that if you are in Christ, you HAVE his Spirit in you!
Second… this is where the grit and grind comes in. It takes some effort to fight anxiety, especially in the beginning. Practically, I have tried almost everything, and there is only one thing that truly combats my anxiety instead of just masking it . Can you guess what it is? God’s Word. 😊 For me, it isn’t just reading it but memorizing it and putting it up where I can see it. I know some of us may have heard that a hundred times, but it works. And even if it doesn’t seem to help at first IT WILL, because through His Spirit and His Word, God comforts us and gives us peace.
Paul says something in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 that is so applicable for the battle against anxiety.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Look at the power we have as believers. We CAN take those anxious thoughts captive, and make them obedient, submissive to Christ. We are not slaves to our thoughts! ! If you struggle with anxiety, the enemy knows he’s got you there. He looks for our areas of weakness and goes in for the kill. And unfortunately, he will keep attacking until we wise up. We must fight him back, and our weapon is God’s Word. If you came to my home during the height of my anxiety, you would think I was cuckoo. Some of you probably still do, and I’m OK with that. 😊I had Scripture written on index cards everywhere. Even my sweet toddler started scribbling her “Bible verses” on notepads! It looked like a Bible bomb had exploded on all my mirrors. But I promise that it saved my mind. And God’s Word is still the source of my peace today.
Exercise, therapy, medication, acupuncture, all those things and more can be so helpful, but if they are not coupled with the Word of God, we are dead in the water. I speak from experience on this one. His Word makes all the difference.