Facing anxiety attacks

What do you do when your daughter who’s getting married in a week is sick with mononucleosis?

Well . . . for me . . . default reaction.

Worry.

Yes, okay, I’m subject to anxiety attacks. Probably not the clinically diagnosable kind: I don’t think I would ever be hospitalized for mine. But they’ve been able to keep me awake at night. Even when times are relatively peaceful, but especially when things are rocky. After all, you’ve got to do something, and worry is at least something.

But in the past few years I’ve been growing in my understanding about who Jesus is to me. That He is everything. My all in all. Words that I used to say, and really believed, but have been learning more to understand.

I think that the first time I tackled an anxiety attack through Jesus Christ was only as recently as the summer of 2008. Instead of my usual method of trying to reason with myself to say, “Look here, you, we’ll list all the things you’re worried about and go through them one by one and see why it is that you really don’t need to worry about them.” Which in the past had given me a modicum of success, so that I could at least function in society.

Instead of that, I saw it as a spiritual battle. And I fought it on a spiritual level. “Lord Jesus, You are my rest and peace. You are my hope and joy. All my anxieties, all my worries, I can thrust on You, because You are the Great Deliverer.” And instead of trying to reason myself through my anxieties, I turned my thoughts to Jesus. Since I had been learning to know and love Him more, I had plenty to think about. He is an ocean of love, beauty, peace, joy, power.

So, as should have always been as obvious as breathing, my Deliverer, who has already come victorious through the worst of temptations, was strong enough to tackle this battle all by Himself. I slept well.

Anyway, it happens every once in a while, and it’s been happening the last few days. So I have the privilege of reminding myself again why I can “count it all joy” when I’m attacked by temptations (James 1). It’s because the attack reminds me to turn all my heart, all my racing thoughts, to the Mighty One, who delights to deliver me. Now I can say, “Look here, you, are you going to worry, or are you going to trust your Savior?”

Once again I turn my thoughts to Christ. Once again, because He has all our circumstances completely under His control, and He is completely trustworthy, I can focus on Him.

And because of who He is, and because of the work He has accomplished, and because of the work He is doing now and will continue to do, I can rejoice, and I can rest.

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