Anxiety for me has come in two forms: the spiritual kind (worry as sin) and the physiological kind (chemical imbalances that lead to panic attacks, etc.). It’s been so helpful for me to sort these out so I can address them each properly. What I share below largely has to do with sinful worry, but my journey through an anxiety disorder has made me need Jesus every bit as much. If you too struggle in this way, I think you’ll be encouraged by this post by Adam Ford. And I highly recommend this book by Jim Wilder.
I have a long and inglorious history with anxiety. You’d think that by the time you’re 40 and you’ve seen God faithful in every season of your life thus far, you’d have long since silenced any besetting fears and worries.
I wish I could say that. I wish I were further along on this journey than I am. But in spite of my intrinsic weakness, I see His grace at work in me. My neediness makes me run to Him, and that is a beautiful thing.
Earlier this week as I was processing my anxious thoughts with the Lord (again—it’s like a daily thing), these words came flying off the page of my Bible:
“Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too, I have provided.”
It was the aged King David speaking to his son Solomon, heir to the throne, charged with building the temple of the Lord. David “provided materials in great quantity” for his beloved son. His father’s heart was eager to make sure Solomon had everything he needed for the future.
And it struck me…
How much more has our Heavenly Father taken pains for us—sacrificing His only beloved Son—to provide “everything we need for life and godliness.” David’s provisions were finite, and the throne he gave to his son was a temporal one. But God in His divine power has “called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.”
Partakers of the divine nature.
Can we let that sink in for a minute? We have an infinitely better and greater inheritance than King Solomon. And if that doesn’t impress you, revisit 1 Kings 10:4-9. The Queen of Sheba was literally breathless at Solomon’s pomp and wealth and regalia.
But we’ve been given much more than Solomon. So much more, it should take our breath away.
It’s as if the landscape of my soul is dripping with jewels and gardens and gold and fancy gowns and feasts. I’m royally rich in Christ. I have everything I need. Everything.
The political scene is explosive and the future of our country feels tumultuous. World news makes me cringe on the daily.
Maybe like me, you also have a relationship or two that keeps you up at night. Maybe your singleness or marriage or motherhood or job or illness or finances or past is overwhelming you today. Maybe you aren’t as fruitful as you’ve always dreamed you’d be—your arms remain childless or your work feels insignificant or you don’t know what you’re doing with your life.
Or perhaps you’re in ministry and the pressures threaten to undo you.
Aren’t these legitimate reasons to feel anxious? How can I ever move past my fears, my worries, a world of bad news—to live in the reality of His riches?
When God’s people were exiles in Babylon, far from the peace and prosperity they had once known, God told them:
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you…”
There are so many times when I have felt like I’m in exile, not in Babylon, but in Anxiety. It’s as if I’m a world away from God’s peace, ruled by a merciless dictator.
And yet quite the opposite is true.
Not only is the Lord with me, He’s happy to be with me. He is a joyful, overcoming God, and anxiety quakes in its boots before Him.
So I must seek Him. When I come to Him, I find Him and His perfect peace. He sees my need and like a tender father His face shines upon me as He says,
“Be strong and courageous, Colleen. Do not fear. Do not be dismayed. I am with you and I have everything you need for this.”
Today I will have dozens (if not hundreds) of opportunities to choose between His voice or mine. Mine says, “What if…?” “Oh no!” and “Too much.”
A few resources that have helped me seek the Lord and calm my anxious heart:
This podcast by John Piper. Piper encourages us to cry out to God with all our being, asking Him to give us a desire for His Word when we feel apathetic, distant, or distracted. (This is a quick 11-minute listen.)
This book by Jim Wilder et al. This book beautifully describes the practice of journaling gratitude to God and listening to His voice. It has been one of the greatest helps for both my sinful worry and my anxiety disorder. In fact, it has become such a joyful practice that I literally smile when I sit down to begin it each day. While I don’t agree with everything in this book, I love how it’s encouraged me to approach God and His Word with an appreciative, joyful heart and an ear tuned to His voice, not mine.
Reading biographies. If you know me, you knew I’d say that. 😉 If you don’t know me, click the link and find out why I’m obsessed with biographies—and how they help put life in perspective.