I am being transparent with you all today about my emotions.
As a psychology specialist and a disciple maker, it really bothers me that many people teach that "fear is the absence of faith." Sometimes it is taught that if you have anxiety, then you aren't really trusting God.
This is untrue or partial truth - and if you also struggle with anxiety, you may know the psychological damage that this popular teaching causes. It often causes those who suffer from anxiety to develop even more anxiety over thinking that their condition is displeasing to God. If you have believed this, I encourage you to consider that you have most likely been taught an untruth, or at least a partial truth. As usual, we must teach and learn from the entire counsel of God's words, not from a cherry-picked, isolated verse or two.
Certainly, the Apostle Paul seemed to experience very low amounts of anxiety during very difficult times. However, his teachings have often been over-generalized to promote, likely unintentionally, the shaming of those of us who are Christ-followers, and who also suffer from severe anxiety conditions.
Instead, we find through the counsel of the entire Bible, that many strong followers of God did experience high levels of fear and anxiety, even Jesus himself! Here are a few examples:
David certainly struggled with fear and anxiety. Just read through a few of his Psalms.
Do you remember reading about how anxious Mary and Martha were, when their brother Lazarus was on his death bed, and Jesus did not seem to intervene fast enough? Martha was stressed, even while at the same time she was able to speak and demonstrate that she still trusted Jesus. (John 11)
What about Peter? He was so anxious that he denied he even knew Jesus three times! But Jesus, after his resurrection, restored Peter and even commissioned Peter to be a leader in the first churches planted in the area!
See, when Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 4:40, "Why are you afraid; do you still have no faith?" He was speaking to them about that specific situation while in the boat in the storm. Jesus did not teach that fear always is a lack of faith for everyone. The entire counsel of the word of God demonstrates this through many examples. Jesus did teach that there was a solution to help settle our fears when we experience anxiety.
Let us not forget that even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, demonstrated anxiety and fear - so much so that he was sweating drops of blood. Drops of blood! Jesus was experiencing so much agony that he must have ruptured a capillary. I'm fairly certain that even you and I have not ever been so anxious that we have sweat blood. Yet, Jesus was experiencing this fear even while at the same time demonstrating his complete faith in the Father. Matthew 26 tells us specifically that Jesus "became grieved and distressed." Jesus needed his Father's reassurance greatly, and even though he was in agony and distress, he was able to say, "Yet not my will, but Yours be done."
In closing, I want to share a prayer I wrote. I wrote this prayer for myself as one of seven prayers I wrote for my own recurrent anxiety. I wrote these prayers to read and meditate upon during times when I am highly stressed and my anxiety has control over my thoughts. When I am truly at my highest levels of anxiety, I am not able to keep my thoughts together long enough to pray effectively without a guide or without notes! I wrote these prayers so that I don't even have to think of what to say during those times. I have found that turning to my own booklet of prayers for anxiety has really helped me. I am able to meditate on words and promises that are already deep in my heart; even though I am not able to easily access the words from my own scattered or blank thoughts in those times.
Here is my prayer. It is a short prayer, and oftentimes I have to meditate and repeat the prayer four or five times. Each time I repeat it, I allow my spirit to pause and soak in the words of truth more deeply. My anxious brain seems to respond well to this calming repetition of truth. Feel free to save this prayer and to use it for yourself if you also suffer from anxiety in a similar way as I do.
You have promised that you will be with me and that you will take me by your right hand. I may still feel alone at times, and I need and desire to feel your presence with me now. Remind me that you are here with me always, and you are spiritually holding me by your right hand. Please send your Spirit to constantly remind me that there is nothing in any realm, whether physical or spiritual, that can separate me from your love.
I thank you, that no matter what happens, that I can put my trust in you. Sometimes I don't know if I have what it takes to solve this problem, but then your Spirit reminds me that I was created to function most successfully and happily when I depend on you.
Because of your willingness, I am able to release my fears to you, and accept your promise that you will help me through this. I release the outcome to you, Lord.
My hope is in you, God.
My confidence is in you, Lord.
My assurance is in you, my Savior.
For a copy of the author's anxiety booklet, visit: Anxiety: 7 Prayers and Scripture Meditations for Experiencing God During Times of Anxiety (Available only on Kindle at this time).
If you would like to learn simple, practical ways to walk with God every single day, then you would really enjoy Closer to God: Simple Methods, Starting Today
If you want to learn more deeply and fully about what Jesus taught, then you would enjoy He Called: 56 Daily Studies and Reflections with the Words of Christ. There are also 14 videos that go along with this book on this blog here: Teachings of Jesus videos
The author also interacts with her readers on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GospelLifeBooks
Author's other books can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/Sherry-Elaine-Evans