Where we choose to fix our gaze, especially in times of trouble, makes all the difference in the world.
Anxiety. Need I say more? For those of us who have personal experience with this ruthless nemesis, the word alone carries a great deal of weight. In fact, just typing or saying the word stirs up a great deal of emotion for me. That's right, I've had my fair share of dark days. Days where I was left debilitated by panic attacks and fear that left me trembling and physically sick. I can't think of many experiences in my life that have been as overwhelming as the days when anxiety got the best of me.
As I sought answers for why I was struggling with anxiety, I found it difficult to talk with others about my deep rooted pain. Whether it was the words of family members or those of well intentioned friends and accountability partners, most people struggled to understand how this ailment was plaguing me. Their attempts to draw me out of the darkness often landed on my soul as remiss and unloving wounds. Though I loved and trusted these people, the "quick fix" remedies and the glib and clichè Bible verses offered to me as "hope-arrows" for the anxiety that at times had me convinced death would be a better alternative, seemed disingenuous and careless.
But they didn't understand. They didn't know how deep the roots of fear and anxiety ran in my heart. So I didn't take offense, but in the season of my life where I needed the most understanding...I found it impossible to find anyone who could truly understand.
This was truly a very dark season of my life, but one in retrospect that I am absolutely grateful for. In the midst of my darkest hours, as I pleaded with the LORD for comfort and peace, the only refuge I found was the steadfast love of the LORD, provided to me in Jesus Christ.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. | 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)
How easy is it for my gaze to drift from eternity? The fears that were plaguing me in my darkest days were not fears of my future glory. They weren't fears of my eternal resting place, in Christ. They were fears of this world. My house, my health, my job, the stability of my marriage or my ability to provide for or take care of my family. These fears were robbing me of the peace that comes with believing in God's omnipotence. Plagued by my own inabilities to sustain my life or the life of anyone else, I was literally being crushed under the weight of a burden God never intended me to bear. Like the story of Peter walking on the water. When his mind drifted from Christ, as the crashing waves became his most palpable reality, he began to doubt and thus began to sink. Only when Peter chose to fix his gaze back on Christ, as he cried out for help, was he saved (Matthew 14:28-33).
Where we choose to fix our gaze, especially in times of trouble, makes all the difference in the world. A day is coming when all things will be made new. Through groaning, like that of childbirth, believers are moving towards something spectacular. And though we frequently find ourselves scared, confused and troubled in spirit...we have absolute assurance that Jesus Christ is coming back.
What I needed in the midst of my anxiety was the Gospel. I needed to preach the Gospel to myself and I needed my friends and family to do the same. The Gospel is the power to overcome sin and temptation. The Gospel is the power to take every thought captive. The Gospel is the power to remind my soul that victory has already been won for me and offered to me through the work of Jesus Christ.
Here are (5) Gospel-centered truths that I use to wage war against anxiety in my own life. I pray that they may offer hope to you or others that you know who are struggling with the crippling effects of anxiety.
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
For His Glory,