“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“Don’t take it personal, I just don’t want to be married to you anymore.” He spoke the words with calloused apathy, never slowing as he gathered a few things on the way out the door. As a baby Christian, my faith was fresh and new. I gathered a twin’s car-seat in each hand and headed out to the car to teach my 8:30 class. There was no time to fuss, cry, or complain, I trusted God was in control, and there were students waiting to be taught.
Stress and anxiety come from many sources. Besides personal relationships, our jobs, school, medical issues, death in the family, or some other traumatic experience can elevate the level of anxiety in our life. When we are feeling the pressure in life, what or who do we turn to for help?
Don’t misunderstand, anxiety can be a very normal response when we feel threatened or in harm’s way. The body has a natural warning alarm that goes off when facing real danger. While it varies from person to person, we may experience a faster heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure, and may even start profusely sweating. We also may experience a rush of adrenaline that sends us into a “flight or fight” response. These responses are normal when facing a sudden emergency or situations which leave us feeling out of control.
The real danger is allowing anxiety to linger in the “flight or fight” response for too long. Out of control anxiety can lead to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and breathing difficulties. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S., which in turn means 40 million families are disrupted by these disorders.
Considering the circumstances, I thought I handled the devastating news pretty well. But, after clearing my head from the initial blow, I began to fret and agonize about it. I began to imagine all the worst realities that could happen. I remember my stomach becoming physically sick, sweating profusely, and my head aching and spinning like a top. I fell to pieces knowing I could not pay the house and car payment on my earnings. Where would my children sleep? In those brief moments my anxiety climbed the mountain of despair and I experienced a full blown panic attack.
Instead of falling to my knees and praying to God for help, I picked up the phone and called a friend. Although she tried to comfort me with her words, agreeing he was a selfish jerk, she actually only escalated my feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. It seemed the more I thought about my situation, the more irrational my thoughts became. How in the world was I going to be able to handle everything? I was not prepared for this to happen. Thank the Lord those feelings and irrational thoughts only lasted a few days.
The sun peeked through the fog when I picked up my Bible and reminded myself of everything the Lord had done for me. No, everything did not become bright and shiny, but it helped me look at the situation in a new and hopeful way. God had a plan, like He always does, and I began to see light at the end of the dark tunnel. My attention transitioned from me, and all of my issues, to placing my future in the Lord’s hands, knowing he would work things out for His Glory. My focus verse was Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
In “Never Look at the Empty Seats, Charlie Daniels Memoir,” he reflects on stress and anxiety prior to traveling through combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Long ago I memorized Psalm 91; it starts out, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” While he talked about apprehension before going to the combat zones, it never really bothered him while he was there. God’s Word has a verse for every kind of circumstance; do you have your verse of comfort memorized for anxiety and stress?
When thinking of how we should handle our unbearable stress and anxiety my thoughts are drawn to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went the night before he was crucified. Let’s take a closer look at the Lord in the Garden in Matthew 26. Then Jesus led his disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.” He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” He took Peter, James and John with him. However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged his soul into deep sorrow and agony. And he said to them, “My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I am dying. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Then he walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, he threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if there is any way you can deliver me from this suffering, please take it from me. Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill your plan for me.”
Luke writes, “He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
Later he came back to his three disciples and found them all asleep. He awakened Peter and said to him, “Do you lack the strength to stay awake with me for even just an hour? Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.”
Our emotions can deceive us. Good people have good intentions, but they can end up disappointing us or letting us down in times of trouble. His Word is a “Hearty Breakfast for the soul.” Keep alert and pray!
“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
Shaped by Faith Prayer
God you are so worthy of our Praise! You have designed every day for us to live and to please You and You alone. Help us when we try and try to work things out in our own minds and strength. Show us Your Way and plan. Lead us Father to the place where Peace is the umpire of our hearts. Help us to recognize our own pride, selfishness and sin that separates us from You. Forgive us Father and help us to place our trust in only You! Your Will be done in our lives Lord. To You be the glory and honor! Amen.