An Exerpt from Take Heart: God's Comfort for Anxious Thoughts
As someone who has struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety since child-hood, I am not going to tell you that overcoming anxious thoughts is as simple as having faith and praying “enough,” nor that the presence of worry and anxiety is an indication of your lack of faith. Instead, believe that my anxiety is the very thing God uses to remind me of my need for Him.
Our Anxious Thoughts are a Training Ground I invite you to consider that your struggle can be a training ground for spiritual growth and endurance as you learn to release your grip on control and find peace in knowing that God is in control.
You understand what it’s like to be lost in a swirl of accusing thoughts, stressed over undone tasks, or consumed by “what-ifs?” that cause you to miss the life story that’s unfolding right in front of you. You understand that it is possible to become so disoriented in your own thinking that you overlook the good gifts God has given you. You and I, friend, need a caring person who can remind us to seek our Father’s face and remind us that He loves us.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salva- tion, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5–6)
When I am overcome by anxious thoughts, it’s hard to think or do anything except remember that I am deeply loved. I am loved despite my insecurities and contradictions. I am loved in the chaos of my fear and weakness, pride and arrogance, and insufficiency. This knowledge is a step toward understanding that I am utterly helpless but that God meets me in my mess. This is G.R.A.C.E. (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense). Grace is God’s love, forgiveness, and favor, given to us because of who God is: our heavenly Father, who created us; our Savior, who earned forgiveness for us by His death on the cross and resurrection; and the Holy Spirit, who sustains our faith and defends us. God’s grace is something I will never fully grasp, but it comes to me in a whisper that cuts through accusing thoughts, reaches out in a hand that slows the thrum of unease coursing through me.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
God’s grace meets us just as we are. He emboldens us to look up, to see beyond ourselves, even as anxiety threatens to suffocate hope. In the tension between our anxiety and God’s grace, we can learn a dance with God that makes our stumbling uncertainty look like purpose.
God not only loves me—stressed out, anxious, and fearful mess that I am—but He also wants to use me. He wants to use you too. Our baggage becomes a toolbox for showing love to a world that is just as broken as we are.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Yes, my anxiety humbles me and strips me of pretense. From this bare place, I am better equipped to share about God as I rest in who He is and not in who I am. Have you also experienced an opportunity to love the world in your most vulnerable moments? God provides us with the radical opportunity to use our hurt to help, and in the process, we experience more healing.