I know its New Years (okay it was 8 days ago – but with all these snow days and school breaks, today is my first day of real routine). While I was thinking about what God has been teaching me lately, I didn’t think about resolutions, goals, or starting a new discipline.
If I’m honest, God has been teaching about dealing with anxiety. I hate to even admit it. After all, God is so faithful. His Word rings true. His blessings abound in my life. But occasionally the ugly “A” word wiggles its way into my mind and body. My muscles clench, sleep evades me, and a heaviness lingers in my chest that I can’t put my finger on.
When I know all things are possible with God, and He is working everything together for my good when I follow Him, why do I lay awake at night assailed with runaway thought full of “if onlys” and “what ifs”? When I admit that I sometimes cry for no reason or feel a hopelessness I can’t explain, it makes me feel weak and vulnerable.
I’d rather wear a plastic smile and say I don’t struggle to dare to hope – the very message I have the privilege of teaching, sharing and writing about. It’s almost as though whenever I study, teach, and talk about placing our hope in Christ alone, I get attacked either from the enemy or tested by my loving God to prove it out in my life. Over and over.
So this week I’ve struggled to sleep. I’ve fretted over everything from my children’s emotions, fear of failure with some risks I’ve taken in publishing my first book this year, to the laundry I think I might have left in washer. My faithful God addressed these things with me as I our church is reading through the book of John this month. Chapter 14 starts with these words that I have chewed on a lot this week:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”
How do you not “let” your heart be troubled? How do you trust in God when anxiety tears at you from different directions?
I know the pat answer – “pray”. I don’t want to minimize prayer – James says the effective prayer of a righteous person avails much. But what about when you can’t get your heart to agree with your head as you determine to talk to God and focus yet all the while the “if onlys” and “what ifs” keep rearing their ugly heads?
I asked some gals for some advice. They had some good ideas – journaling, listening to music, talking to a godly friend, praying, waiting it out, taking a sleeping pill (oh wait – that was me).
The fact that God tells us not to “let” our hearts be troubled and to actively trust in Him tells me He wants to intentionally seek His face about this. The rest of John 14 is pretty amazing. Jesus says:
- He is going to prepare of place for us in heaven.
- He claims that He is the way, the truth and the life.
- He promises to send His Holy Spirit to help us.
It seems that trusting in Him starts with me rehearsing the truth about who He is and staying in close relationship with Him. The disciples ask for a sign to see the Father in this chapter. I would really like one of those signs from heaven when I am feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or discouraged. But Jesus says – trust me – I and the Father are one.
In verse 27 He says this, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Perhaps I will be talking my memory verse partner into tackling John 14 as we start this new year. It seems like some verses that might be a good arsenal to call on when the big “A” reappears.
If you have something that has helped you in your struggle with anxious feelings – I would love to hear from you! Just post it on the “Daring to Hope” Facebook page or leave a comment here on the blog. Hope your days (and nights) in 2014 are filled with God’s precious gift – peace of mind and heart.