“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8
Sure. It’s easy to say, but how easy is it to put into practice? Don’t worry. Be anxious for NOTHING. But what about my stressful job, God? Be anxious for NOTHING. But what about my kids, God? Be anxious for NOTHING. But what about my health, God? Be anxious for NOTHING. Or my finances, etc.? God’s reply… Do not worry about anything, but instead pray to me with a thankful heart, and you will be surrounded by my peace. Period.
Recently I had a major panic attack. Anyone been there? You know, the chest pains, (which of course make you think you’re having a heart attack), the hot flashes, followed by the chills, headaches, trouble breathing, that awful unsettled restless feeling. You’re not sure whether you need to call 911 or wake your spouse to drive you to the ER, only to be told that there’s nothing wrong with you. Make some “lifestyle changes”. Or, like mine, your spouse would tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you and to just relax and go to sleep. Right.
Now I’m no stranger to periodic panic attacks, but I’ve never experienced anything like this one before. It was during a time where everything seemed to be closing in on me all at once. Honestly, I thought I had been handling things relatively well. I guess not.
It was just before bed when it started. By the time I crawled under the blankets, I was convinced I’d be in the walk-in before the night was over. I had a choice that night. I could either choose to succumb to the thoughts that incessantly banged on the door of my mind…
OR I could have chosen to pray and cry out to God for His help in my time of need. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) In Hebrew, brokenhearted, or “nishbar lev”, means those of us that are broken (one description I read used the word “shattered”) on the inside and need God’s help because we realize we just can’t do it on our own. This verse, then, tells us that God is right next to us when we feel like we are completely helpless and can’t put ourselves back together. Sound familiar? This is exactly what a panic attack feels like. That night I chose to stop being a victim of anxiety. I’m not saying it was easy, but instead of entertaining heart attack thoughts, I began pleading to God for help, clinging to the hope that only He could give me.
I love Psalm 4:8. It’s encouraging that I’m not the only one who has ever experienced anxious nights. David prayed, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” I can pretty much guarantee that he was feeling anything but peaceful and safe when he prayed that prayer. Yet he chose to cry out to God and proclaim what he already knew God could do instead of succumbing to the other thoughts that threatened to overtake him.
I don’t know about you, but it seems that anxiety tends to strike more at night. Why is that? Because Satan loves darkness! It’s his playground. Ephesians 6:12 talks about the, “rulers of the darkness of this age.” 1 John 1:5 declares that, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Satan wants to take advantage of the night and get into our minds when we are at our weakest. But if we remember God is light, and He is in us, then we are the light too and no darkness can survive in us!
Does It Matter What We Think? I hesitated to publish this blog because I wasn’t sure it really held the emotion and passion I intended. This is so important. Anxiety is very prevalent in our society today but I want to remind you that we have the tools to fight it. I love the band the Newsboys. In one of their songs they sing a line taken from Psalm 30. “There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” How encouraging is that! As I prayed that night God did show up. He always does. He promises He will. I know this isn’t the last time the enemy will try to trick me into thinking I’m having a heart attack or dying. But I can stand firm on the knowledge of the fact that if I hold fast to God and choose cry out to Him instead of “fulfilling the desires of…the mind,” (Eph 2:3), the joy WILL come in the morning and I don’t have to be anxious for anything!!