I realized it in the middle of the night as I laid in bed overwhelmed, consumed with dread and fearful of fear: I am a spiritual hypocrite.
I have always been transparent about my calling to encourage others in their faith walk, yet there I was — again — smack in the middle of a crisis of my own faith.
Countless times I have encouraged a friend struggling with anxiety by quoting Philippians 4: 6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Yet I was consumed with anxiousness.
I’ve shared the Truth with friends: before we were even born God had numbered our days. We will not draw our last breath until our appointed time.
Your eyes have seen my formless substance;
And in Your book were written
All the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. | Psalm 139:16
Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You;
And You have set his limits so that he cannot pass. | Job 14:5
Yet I was fearful of illness taking a family member.
I’ve rallied friends who were deep in the muck and mire, by reminding them that they are not alone: God is always with them.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!
Do not be terrified nor dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” | Joshua 1:9
Yet I felt alone and dismayed.
I’ve encouraged friends in the midst of a storm, pointing out that nothing will come to us that hasn’t been loving sifted through God’s hands, for our good and for His glory.
And we know that God causes all things to work
together for good to those who love God, to those
who are called according to His purpose. | Romans 8:28
Yet I was overwhelmed with the fear of what-might-happen.
When a friend was struggling to make sense of a hardship, I reminded her that our ways are not God’s ways:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. |Isaiah 55: 8-9
And we won’t always understand:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever,
so that we may follow all the words of this Law. | Deuteronomy 29:29
Yet I struggled to understand and makes sense of my circumstances.
I’d like to say that I had an immediate ah-ha moment and regained my spiritual balance, but the truth is, I struggled for months.
Then my phone rang early one morning; my father had passed away in his sleep. As I hung up the phone, I had the thought: this was the culmination of all my fear and the moment I had been dreading. My fear of losing a parent was now a reality.
Almost immediately, my fear switched to the fear of losing my mother. My anxiety level went through the roof. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t focus. I struggled to fix things. I couldn’t sit still. I was mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.
Finally, I reached the point that I knew I had to make a choice: was I going to continue in this destructive pattern or was I going to trust the God I know?
I choose to trust God. I choose to surrender my perceived responsibilities. I choose to relinquish my perceived control over any situation. I choose to renew my mind with Truth by writing out Scripture verses, meditating on them and memorizing them.
And I choose to rest in the unending, merciful grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my sometimes-wavering faith.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline. | 2 Timothy 2:7