Recently I was asked, “How can you call yourself a Christian…how can you say you trust God if you have so much anxiety?” Tears swelled up in my eyes as the truth of the question hit me full force. It’s the same thing I’ve asked myself over and over and over again. Why, God, do I suffer this anxiety when I say I trust You and love You? Why doesn’t reading Joshua 1:9 or Psalm 46 over and over again “work”? Why can’t I trust You and lean not on my understanding. Why, God, why?
Yet I realize that I’ve never cleaved to God like I cleave to Him during anxious periods. I know the anxiety will pass and despite the messages flying through my body screaming, “You are not safe,” I know I can find safety in Him, even as I cry, even as I gasp for breath, even as I scream out to Him. I’ve also learned that life here on the fallen planet has affected everything, including the way my brain function. Not only is there an emotional and spiritual component to this anxiety/panic thing, there is a physical one as well.
I suppose if that person were to ask me the same question now I would say, “How could I not trust God and have so much anxiety? For if I didn’t trust Him in this, I surely would have been driven mad ages ago.” Simply put, my anxiety is an outlet for which I can trust God more and more. Not that I welcome it, but I am learning to accept it and manage it (so that it will not manage me). Anxiety, like many things, is a refining process, peeled away in layers, and not all at once.
When I share about my battles with anxiety, I’m often met with the comment, “We all get scared.” Uh, yeah, thanks for minimizing my problem. If it were as simple as that, I would be cured instantaneously. It’s like an annoying alarm clock that you can’t turn off, no matter how many times you push the off button. You can throw the clock around, slam it against the wall, and scream until you drown out the noise, but you can never make it stop. The best you can do is hit snooze to find some relief. Yet you know it will come back despite what medications you take, despite your therapeutic techniques, and despite your prayers—it will come back and you will be forced to fight the beast again.
Though I feel alone in my terror, God is there with me. I cannot imagine calling myself a Christian and not having Him with me when I feel so anxious or the knowledge that He is keeping me under His wings during a panic attack. This is where I place my trust.