This is an excerpt from HomeLife Magazine.
In many ways, my anxiety has been a gift.
Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
In the throes of an anxiety attack — when my mind is racing and my lungs constrict and I can’t make the tears stop, can’t catch my breath — there is nothing “good” about it. The same is true for all kinds of difficulties and trials we face. Whether it’s cancer or a chronic illness, divorce or unemployment, a natural disaster or the perfect storm of relational turmoil, the harmful and destructive things in our lives aren’t good simply because we look for a silver lining. Trying to tie hard stories with happy bows can be hurtful and dishonor our pain. I know many people have been wounded by Christians especially who offer well-intended but trite platitudes as a bandage to someone’s suffering.
"God doesn’t delight in our pain. But He is faithful to use it."
When we examine our own struggles or make space for other people’s struggles, we need to acknowledge that the brokenness of our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our lives was never God’s plan. God doesn’t delight in our pain. But He is faithful to use it.
I never would have written an anxiety disorder into my story. Extra adrenaline buzzing through my body, feeling like there’s a brick on my chest and I can’t catch my breath, living in a state of overwhelmingness, paralyzed by tasks I know I’m capable of doing, constantly exhausted yet unable to sleep — not my idea of a gift.
But God. Those are two of the most powerful words we can see, say, live.
But God takes what the enemy intended for evil and uses it for our good. We see this with the story of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery. Through years of hardship, false accusations, and imprisonment, Joseph is eventually raised up as the second in command in all of Egypt, a position of power and influence that eventually leads to being reunited with his brothers. Face to face with the ones who rejected and betrayed him decades before, Joseph declares, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people” (Gen. 50:20).
You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.
With the gift of hindsight, Joseph is able to clearly see that while his flesh and blood abandoned him, His heavenly Father didn’t. While the enemy intended to enslave and defeat him, God’s power freed and exalted him.
Eyes to See
Today, it’s important that we also look back on our trials — as well as our ongoing challenges — and ask God to give us eyes to see His goodness.
While I never would have written anxiety into my story, I can see how the trustworthy Author has used it for so much good.
As I’ve shared about my anxiety, God has allowed my voice to help others feel seen and less alone.
Learning to communicate with my husband through the discomfort of anxiety has led to deeper intimacy and trust in our relationship.
Living with a mental health disorder has grown my empathy and compassion for those who suffer.
Anxiety has made my faith stronger, deeper, more resilient as I rely on Jesus.
I see God’s kindness on display. He has provided a wonderful Christian therapist, a kind and supportive doctor, and incredible friends who really listen, pray, and check in.
I have the ongoing opportunity to talk to my kids about mental illness and model for them healthy ways to show emotion, set boundaries, and ask for help.
God is Faithful
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
My anxiety has been the stage for God’s relentless comfort — and His faithful strength. Just like Paul, I’ve discovered that God’s grace is sufficient for me. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
Do I pray for healing from my anxiety? Yes. It’s OK to pray for deliverance from our thorns and storms. Praise be to God if He chooses to heal and deliver! But praise be to God if He chooses not to. Either way, His love will be on display in the lives of those who trust Him.