Anxiety (and depression) has been plaguing my life on and off since I was a child, and it is still something that I wrestle with to this day. I used to think that my struggle with anxiety and depression made me a very weak Christian that lacked faith in God. But that, my dear friends, is absolutely not true.
Because sin exists in the world, so does sickness and brokenness and no one is exempt from any of it. Although we have been redeemed and our eternal salvation is secure in Christ, as believers, we still are subject to suffering in this fallen world that we live in. God may not cause pain, mental illness, disease, or traumatic experiences, but in His great sovereignty, He does allow it.
For me, there came a point in time where I stopped rebuking the devil for all the anxiety and depression I was experiencing and shifted my focus on God Almighty, the only One who could help me through my pain and give me wisdom on what was going on with my body. Through it all, whether the anxiety was caused by overwhelming thoughts that I chose to fearfully dwell upon or a hormonal imbalance occurring in my body, God has always remained faithful and near to me in the midst of my suffering. My faith in Him has not waivered, even if my emotions and thoughts did.
Although prayer may not conquer every moment of panic or worry, it is my lifeline to stay connected to the source of peace and life, to abide in the Vine (John 15) so I don’t dry up. I also remember to arm myself with the truth of God’s Word that helps me renew my mind day by day and strengthens my faith and gives me hope. We need to stay connected to Jesus, for just as verse 5 in John 15 tells us, apart from Christ, we can do nothing:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5, ESV).
Intersecting Faith and Life:
We will all experience some type of suffering and face “winter” seasons in our lives. Difficult seasons in life can actually be a time of growth and maturity in the Lord. In the natural, trees’ roots actually grow down deeper into the earth in the wintertime. Your suffering can actually be what allows your roots in the Lord to grow deeper. Instead of yielding ourselves to complete defeat and despair when we are suffering, we need to allow our roots in Jesus to grow deeper and deeper. During these dark times, the enemy wants you to dry up and rot- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and will even tempt you to run to other things or people to take away your pain, but we must use those times of trial to draw closer to the Lord and drink deep of His goodness and faithfulness. Remember, we must remain connected to our life-source, Jesus, the Vine. He alone sustains us through every time of difficulty. No other thing or person will be able to bring you true life, peace, and wholeness, friend.
Staying connected to other believers is also extremely important to our spiritual health as well, especially when we are in the midst of a trial or storm. Their root systems in God can get “nutrients” to us and their spiritual fruit can “feed” us when we are struggling to hang onto the Vine. If we isolate ourselves during these times and are not taking in the proper nutrients from God’s Word, we become very vulnerable to the enemy’s lies and fear tactics. Isolation is the breeding ground for hopelessness, doubt, and fear. Don’t allow shame or embarrassment keep you from reaching out for help when you are struggling to find hope. Call, text, or visit a friend and open up about what you are going through. What a beautiful picture of what the Body of Christ is supposed to do when a brother or sister is discouraged and walking through a valley!
Remember, Jesus knows first-hand the depths of pain and suffering here on earth, but the good news is that because of His life given as a sacrifice for our sin, we will one day be with Him for eternity, and He will finally put an end to all suffering and sorrow. Abide in Him and hold onto the hope that He brings, dear friend, mountain high or valley low.
2 Peter 1:2-18