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The Anxiety That Consumes

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

In September 2014, I got the formal diagnosis I had been expecting: General Anxiety Disorder. Until then, I thought something was simply wrong with me. I felt ashamed of these feelings; I tried to keep them hidden inside. And then a barrage of stressors intersected in my life, and all of these feelings spilled out.

Philippians 4:6-7 had once brought me comfort. Now, the phrase, “do not be anxious about anything,” just rubbed salt in the wound. How was this possible? I felt anxious about everything!

As I recited these verses over and over, my focus shifted from what seemed impossible, to the next phrase in verse six, which says, “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I petitioned, yelled at, and cried out to God.

I looked for things I could be thankful of, in spite of how I felt: my supportive and loving husband; a Bible study that grounded me in God’s Word; family members who had walked the path of anxiety before me and who accepted me as I am; the Lord God, who loves me in spite of my brokenness.

I clung to this promise: “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In moments of panic or despair, I surrendered my feelings to God and pleaded for His peace.

And in His great mercy, in the moments I felt I couldn’t go on, God filled my heart with overwhelming peace. He also led me to the right doctor, counselor, and friends who helped me get the support I needed.

He even restored a difficult relationship through my diagnosis; our friendship will always remind me how God can take the difficult, ugly, and even shameful things in our lives and use them for our good and His glory when we trust in Him.

Lord, thank You for the ways You uphold us and care for us as we walk through times of difficulty. Thank You that You transform the pain in our lives into things of beauty, as we trust in You. Thank You that You love us in spite of our brokenness. Amen.

Thought: We all struggle with worry and anxiety at times. God promises that when we surrender our worry to Him, he will guard our hearts and minds and fill us with His peace. If you are struggling with worry right now, claim this promise. Recite this verse to yourself whenever you have anxious thoughts as a reminder that God will help you when you come to Him.

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