When The Storm Sweeps In
[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]A[/mk_dropcaps]nxiety - A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease; typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. The best way I know to describe the feeling of anxiety is to liken it to a thunder and lightning storm. There is so much energy and fear mixed together both internally that we feel it externally as well. Just like a thunderstorm makes the air around you feel thick and heavy, the air you breathe during an anxiety attack takes it even further to feeling like you're suffocating. You cannot help but get charged up with nowhere to channel the nervous and uneasy energy. Personally, I enjoy a good thunder and lightning storm, but the storm of anxiety can be almost unbearable.
I have had only one anxiety attack, but it is not something I wish to relive. I know many people who suffer from anxiety attacks or even chronic anxiety. In fact, approximately 40 million Americans (18% of the US population) suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder. It is not something to be ignored. Just as fear can leave you frozen, so can anxiety. It is paralyzing. It can come on just thinking about something off in the future. Unlike fears, which are often triggered by the very environment we are in, anxiety is stirred up by the things we care most about in the framework of the future.
Paul explicitly describes what our response to anxiety and worry is to be:
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; Philippians 4:6[/mk_blockquote]
Anxiety and worry are not for us to hold on to. We are meant to cast them onto the almighty shoulders of our Lord. We are to be full of faith to the point we know we are not meant to carry the weight of such heavy burdens. Anxiety is one of the heaviest felt burdens. It is like walking through life with a weighted vest and ankle and wrist weights. Your routine remains the same and yet somehow your energy is tapped far more than when you're from that undue resistance. Anxiety is actually one of the afflictions Jesus bore when He was beaten before His crucifixion. He said as he took his last breath, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) This means we no longer have to endure the torment of anxiety as he paid the price to redeem us from it even in this fallen world.
As if that was not enough, there is explicit direction in scripture through a parable on how we should not worry (the feeling of anxiety). It is found in Matthew 6:25-34, and in the NKJV it is now entitled “Do NOT Worry.” Plain and simple. Do NOT Worry. Do NOT.
In verse 34 it states:
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.[/mk_blockquote]
We are to be present. Today, right now, this moment is a gift. It was not guaranteed. Though we can often act like it is. Each and every day that we get up and have breath, it is a miracle, and a privilege. God designed you and I each uniquely and specifically, for this time, in this very place for a specific assignment. We are built to bring light and life to all those we cross. Thus, to fully enjoy this gift means we “open it” and put it to its full use.
When we spend our creative energy bound up in the “what if's” and anxieties torment our tomorrow, we downgrade the value of the given gift of NOW. Today has enough challenge and adventure in and of itself. When you worry, you are unable to fully participate in the lessons and joy that is before you. Life is far too short to rest there. God wants us to stretch our faith, to lean on Him with both the big and small worries. There is nothing too small nor too big for Him to willingly take on.
In moments of deep anxiety, much like fear, I believe there is a unique opportunity to rise up in faith and take a step. This step of faith does not have to be flashy, but it does require dependance on the Lord. Choosing to trust Him, even when the feeling and weight of the storm of anxiety rises up does not diminish us; it only strengthens us. Just like Jesus commanded to the storm,
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]“‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was great calm.” –Mark 4:39[/mk_blockquote] His desire is to do the same for the internal storm that arises with anxiety. Will you choose to grab the lifeline of God's presence when life feels as though it will suffocate you? He already knows the end, and is still with us in this very moment to walk us through to the finish line. You were not created to be bound by anxiety; you were made for connection with Him.