Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:17
Anxiety is something that almost everyone deals with to some degree in their life. We may not always recognize the signs of anxiety, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting our minds and bodies as well as our soul.
Anxiety is normal and often healthy. It makes us aware of danger and can give us nervous energy that can be channeled into doing something that we didn’t know we could do. However, there are times when it becomes unhealthy and debilitating.
Most people would not guess that I have bouts of anxiety and panic attacks. On the outside, I seem calm and confident. Those things are true as well. We are not just one thing. This is important to understand. We do not have to make a choice here nor do we have to let things like anxiety or depression define us. We are complex beings.
Several years ago, I realized that my anxiety about entering a room full of strangers was getting worse. In fact, it was getting out of control, debilitating even. My husband was a worship pastor and loved to visit other churches on his time off so that he could be a participant. I went with him because, you know, I love him and like hanging out with him.
However, walking into a room full of strangers was terrifying and I couldn’t really figure out why. I had been going to trauma therapy and was also seeing a spiritual director for some other issues that had come up and so I had started changing my interaction with God. I started becoming more aware of his presence on a consistent basis. I knew that He was with me and wanted good things for me.
One evening, we went into this service and it began like it always did. Adam was walking in front of me, heading to the front so he could worship undistracted, and I lagged behind like a child who didn’t really want to be there. The walls started feeling like they were closing in. I felt like everyone was watching me and looking into my soul. My chest started to tighten. My breath became shallow. Panic was at my door. I reluctantly stepped into the second row and watched the worship team. I tried closing my eyes to worship so all the anxiety would go away, but when I opened my eyes again, Adam was no longer standing next to me.
Full panic mode.
Fear closing my throat.
Then I saw Adam. He was over watching the baptisms. He loves to see people get baptized into new life with Christ. Meanwhile, I’m panicking because he’s so far away. I look back to the worship team and start to criticize. This is my coping mechanism. I start picking them apart in my head and then stop, knowing what I’m doing is wrong.
I stop and ask God what’s going on. “Please show me what is happening. Why do I feel this way?”
As I was praying, God took me back in my memory to my freshmen year in high school. I was the assistant to our PE coach and my job was to unlock the locker rooms after PE class. I had the keys in my hand and was heading down the hall to the boys locker room where about 15 boys were waiting for me. I had to walk through them and they thought it would be funny to pull at my clothes and make me think they were going to de-pants me. This is what they did to each other all the time. One kid took it too far and actually pulled my shorts down in front of everyone. I was mortified. This was the same exact feeling I had every time I walked into a room full of strangers. That exact feeling of fear and anxiety.
As tears streamed down my face, I begged God to heal me. “Now that you’ve shown me this, please heal me!”
At that moment I felt the peace of God wash over me. My breathing normalized, my chest loosened, and as I took a deep breath, I knew he healed me. The next month we went to a funeral in which I knew no one and after it was over I realized that I did not have one bit of anxiety the entire time. God did indeed heal me from that particular anxiety.
This is not to say that I don’t ever struggle with anxiety. I still do. Whenever I have to talk in front of a large group, I need to first spend time in prayer, surrender, and total reliance on God. Not only to get me through, but for God to speak through me, which He does. Last month Adam and I rode our bikes on a busy road with no room for bicycles and I had an absolute panic attack. I got off the road and went for a walk with God and he calmed me down. Trust me, I will stay off those roads.
My point is that sometimes God heals things completely and lets us know that He is so loving and so powerful and wants to free us from that bondage. Other times, he wants us to lean on Him on a daily basis.
He is our daily bread and we need him just to breathe sometimes. 1 Peter 5:17 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I have found this to be true. God cares about you too. He cares about your fear and anxiety and wants to free you from it.
I often wonder if I never had another anxious moment, would I need to rely on God? Would I forget that God is the one who healed me and think I conquered this on my own?
God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants to walk with us in the difficult times. He wants to heal us and bring us joy. He wants to be our daily bread. We truly need God every single day. And that is a beautiful thing.
Do you battle anxiety? Here's a message from our series "Emotions" about anxiety: