Monday, July 18, 2011

From Anxiety to Trust

     Heading to worship this past Sunday, I felt the old gnawing sensation creeping up my back and sending my stomach churning once again.  I knew only too well the old enemy of my soul was stirring up those feelings of insecurity and anxiety that have dogged my footsteps for many years.   Having experienced a panic attack, no one would ever want to have another one; so the fear of the "fear" is what paralyzes me.   I never have thought of myself as a worrier, but that is exactly what God showed me during the service.  We have been planning a trip to Europe to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and with so many unknowns,  I allowed my concern to grow.  By the time we arrived at church, I was inwardly battling old emotional responses to stress.
     As we settled in our pew, I began a slow breathing exercise to calm my anxiety.  It helped, but not nearly as much as the Word being preached and the worship that filled the sanctuary.  Both lifted me out of myself so that I could hear what the Lord had to say.  What began with anxiety that morning, ended with a prayer of gratitude for God's goodness in revealing to me my sin and its remedy.
     Our pastor has been preaching a series on the Songs of Ascent in the Psalms.  Psalm 127 and 128 were to focus this past Sunday.  The first few verses of Psalm 127 are what began to open my mind and heart releasing them from the icy prison of anxiety.  These words of Solomon are so rich with wisdom:  "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep."
     These words pried open the door shut hard against the fear I was feeling.  It was a revelation though I had heard these verses many times before.  Yet, this time was different.  The Holy Spirit helped me see that God is in control.   He is the one that builds the house, guards the city, provides for our needs, and leads the way.  When we take it upon ourselves to do these things, we bring only anxiety and stress into our lives.  We demonstrate to God that we do not trust Him.
     Jesus said it well:  "Therefore do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body what you will put on.....And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? " (Matthew 6:25a; 27).  Jesus goes on to describe how God takes care of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air.  Being even more valuable than these creatures, God will also take care of us.  He already knows what we need.  While I have read these verses a zillion times, somehow they didn't register until now.  It became clear to me that worry was a sin.  My anxiety resulted from lack of trust in God who watches over all the affairs of my life.
     Amazing, isn't it?  We can be given a precious gift (like time with my husband on a special trip) and yet, we begin to worry about all the "what ifs" that may never occur.  Even if they do occur, what is the worst thing that can happen that God cannot deal with?  I had a counselor point that out to me years ago.  She told me that even if we suffer a bout of depression, a panic attack, or some other problem, does that mean our life is over and God is not present to help lift us up?  Admittedly, the answer is "no".  Since nothing can separate us from His love, we have no reason to fear and all the more reason to trust.
     All our worries, anxiety and fear cannot accomplish anything.  It can cause us to have an upset stomach, tingling in our fingertips, and a sense of impending doom.  However, trusting in the God who builds the house, keeps the city safe and watches over us, brings peace as we yield to His sovereignty.
     I left church fully blessed.  I repented of the sin of worry and committed my heart to greater trust in God.  Let no one ever say that God does not speak through His Word when it is faithfully preached in the assembly of believers.  When we come expecting to hear from the Lord, He will never disappoint us.  I am grateful to our faithful pastors who study and share from God's Word each week.  Most importantly, I am grateful to God for setting me free from the bondage of anxiety.
     Are you faithfully attending church each week?  There is a wealth of fellowship, teaching, and prayer that can help you face the trials and circumstances of your life.  You may not suffer from anxiety, but there is no problem to big or small which the Lord cannot touch.  God dwells in the middle of His people when they come together in worship before Him.  Do not miss out on His blessings.  Answers to life's dilemmas come when we seek first His kingdom.  He will add just what we need when we need it.   Selah!

How has God been speaking to you this week?  What Scriptures come to your mind as you face each day?  I welcome your thoughts and insights here as well as your encouragement.


Patricia said...

I love this, Barbara. We never, ever stop growing. Ever. And though the enemy is relentless in his attacks on us, God is even more relentless - faithful to bring restoration and peace - and always more grace.

I love the body of Christ. Being with my brothers and sisters in Christ in worship and fellowship is my favorite moment of every week...and like you, I am grateful to be in a church where God's Word is the final authority and taught every single week.

Can't wait for you to go on this trip. I hope you will be able to post photos and stories along the way.

Know that I will be praying for you every day...for God's peace to reign in your heart.

Much love,

Penned Pebbles said...

Thank you for sharing this. God's grace has been more than sufficient already these past few days, and I know that each challenge, person, and task that He has placed before me is there for a reason. He is faithful and good, and if we keep our minds on Him, we will bring Him great pleasure and glory. Church is not just a place or a people but a vital gift of God's wisdom, power, and grace through Christ!

Anonymous said...

Anxiety is difficult to deal with. I sure had a bit of anxiety before leaving for Brazil! Sometimes it's hard to let go and leave God in control.