I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for many years in high school and college. Stress and worry were just a part of my life, and I allowed them to move into my mind and become my permanent mental roommates. From money problems to relationship issues, if it became too much, you would find me curled up in a ball in the fetal position on the floor, hyperventilating until parts of my body went numb and crying until there were no more tears left.
After I graduated college, the Lord regenerated and redeemed me, and I began to walk close with the Him and study His Word like I never had before in my life. My mind was being renewed and over time, I began to trust the Lord more with issues that would have normally caused me to worry. I slowly learned to cast my cares upon Him like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”(1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
But every now and then, I still become a victim of worry and anxiety and begin to experience sudden panic about my circumstances that out of my control, even though I know the Bible is clear that we should always trust the Lord at all times. So if we aren’t supposed to be anxious as believers, why do so many Christians still struggle with anxiety? Aside from chemical imbalances that can occur in one’s body, which are very real and very valid, I believe much of what causes anxiety begins in our minds. The more we dwell on a negative or fearful thought of a circumstance beyond our control, the more stress and worry begins to plague us. Somewhere along the lines in our overwhelm, we forget the One who holds our future. The One who is sovereign. The One who cares for His children so deeply, the Lord God Almighty. We learn more about Him in the Bible, where our faith and abiding trust in Him is strengthened.
The other night when I experienced the panic attack, there was a brief moment where I was given the opportunity to resist the negative thoughts and take them captive and begin to talk to God like I had learned to do so many times before, but this time, I chose to let my mind run in circles. I was so familiar with the experience of a panic attack that I could literally feel it try to overtake me right before it happened. If I would have set my mind upon scripture in that moment (such as Philippians 4:6-7 and even 1 Peter 5:7), I would have realized that God offered me a solution for my anxious thoughts. A simple conversation with the Lord would have helped me focus my thoughts and would have brought immediate peace to the whirlwind in my mind. The Word of God is so powerful and the more we study and meditate upon it, our foundation will be strong in Christ and we will continually know how to look to Him any time stress and anxiety tries to overtake us. Let us always be quick to ask the Lord for His sustaining grace and help in our time of need, looking to Him always because He cares for us.
Father God, thank You that You want us to cast our cares upon You. Thank You that there is nowhere I can go that you are not there with me. Thank You for having a hold of my life, even as I feel like everything is crumbling around me. Lord, I confess that I have let stress take a hold of my life, rather than You. I have let stress control my mood, my attitude, my emotions, and my actions. Lord, I repent of this! Please Father, help me see what is stressful in my life and hand it over to You. Help me not let the stress win out. Help me actively think on Your goodness to me. Help me to renew my mind with Your unchanging Word. I am so hopeful for my eternity with you, Lord, where there will be no more stress and I will be overwhelmed by Your love, beauty, and never-ending peace! Help me look back on all the ways You have rescued me from my stressful moments and look in hope to the future where You will one day rid all stress, forever. In the meantime, I know and trust that You hold my future. Help me live boldly in the truth of Your goodness and power today. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, amen.