Anxiety; March 31, 2022

Psalm 131:1-2 My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Being able to state this honestly can be a real achievement. We are very prone to get frantic before God, either insisting that things be a certain way or failing to see how He’s going to get us out of whatever fix we’re in. The thing is, faith and trust are choices. We choose what we will believe, whether consciously or not. Choosing to trust God is always the best choice, because it eliminates the suffering of anxiety. Generally speaking, the dread of something before it happens is worse to us than the thing itself. That’s not to say that we aren’t to take precautions, but it is to say that we aren’t to get wrapped up in what might happen. That applies today to the fear of flying. The rate of accidents per million passenger miles for commercial airlines today is so low as to be completely insignificant, but there are still “while-knuckle fliers” who are nervous wrecks by the time they get off of the plane. It is actually far more dangerous to get into a car to go somewhere, but people aren’t generally in dread of that. However, human beings are prone to anxiety, so the Bible speaks to that tendency many times. Actually, being able to project future danger was very much a survival tactic in primitive times, and it still can be today, particularly in wartime, but as many returning warriors have experienced, you have to be able to tone that down to participate fully in normal society. The inability to tone it down is called PTSD, and at times it can be tragic. For the rest of us, we still tend to have our pet anxieties of one sort or another, and they all get in the way of receiving and enjoying all that God has prepared for us. Like the Psalmist, we need to learn to still and quiet our soul, and choose to trust God.

I don’t think I’ve ever been a particularly anxious person, despite my past battles with depression. That’s a blessing indeed. However, as a pastor I deal with anxious people all the time. On a very personal note, my wife’s Parkinson’s Disease not only causes her dopamine levels to drop, it also affects her serotonin levels, which we found out only recently. We knew that in recent years she has become prone to panic attacks, but didn’t know why, so learning about the serotonin was actually a relief. Just telling her to trust God doesn’t accomplish anything! My presence and my support are vital to her, and I am never to take that lightly. You could say that I am to be “Jesus with skin on” to her, however imperfect a representation I might be. I do know that my own health maintenance is at least as much for her as it is for me, because I need to be here for her. Anxiety is by definition something in our mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. I need to walk with her to help her follow the example of the Psalmist, for her blessing and God’s glory.

Father, thank You for this clear Word. Thank You that You are totally trustworthy. I do ask for Your solution to Cathy’s serotonin levels, whether that is in dietary form or something else. Help us walk together in Your peace that passes human understanding, (Philippians 4:7) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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