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Does anxiety overtake you in life?


Sharing our anxieties with a friend or someone we trust can be used by God as part of the healing process.

By JAMES BURNS

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? A worrier? That’s me! Anxious? Yes, sometimes.


Philippians 4:5-6 tells us that “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.” But perhaps you’ve read that many times before and even feel it doesn’t work.


We often sing, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.’ But do we always feel like that or sometimes sing it through gritted teeth?


You may have heard the song ‘Jesus is All I Need’ by Hans Knutzen that includes the words, ‘When I'm crying like a lost child in the dead of night, Feeling left behind, nowhere to go.’ And respond by saying, “I know that feeling.” But we’re not alone, for in Psalm 6:6-7 we find these words, “I am worn out by grief; every night my bed is damp from my weeping; my pillow is soaked with tears.”


But are you really a lost child? No, for God knows exactly where you are and what you’re going through. He’s with you! Even if at our lowest, it seems otherwise.


Thank God that the Bible is full of honest laments – particularly Psalms – when David and others complained to God about their lot. But God is not offended by that – he wants us to be honest with him.

Whenever I’ve read the story of The Lost Sheep, I previously thought of it applying to someone else, perhaps someone who was no longer a believer. But what if it’s about me? What if I’m feeling lost because of various life concerns or because I have strayed away from God’s way?


If that’s you, cry out, “Jesus, come for me!”


In Genesis 1: 3-5, we read that in the beginning, God made a day. Not a week or a fortnight, but a day. And that reminds me of the song, ‘One Day at a Time’, sung by Lena Martell, which got to No.1 in 1979. In particular, the words of the chorus that say, ‘Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do.”


In his book The Day is Yours, Ian Stackhouse wrote about a friend who, during a bad bout of depression, applied the discipline of living one day at a time. “He would wake up each morning and ask Jesus if we can do today – we being the operative word – and then, having received some kind of affirmation from the Lord that indeed it was possible to do today, proceeded to live that day. Then the next day, he would do exactly the same thing, and then the next day, and the next day. As he describes it, it was a one-day contract.”


In the Lord’s prayer, we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread”but these days, we generally know where our next meal is coming from, so how does that apply today? I’m reminded that when tempted by Devil, Jesus quoted the words of Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man must not live on bread alone but on everything that the Lord says.”


But how do we know what that is? By reading our daily bread – the Bible. I recently read a devotional that stated, “Help me to arm myself with Scripture. Help me to learn it, live it and use it, especially when the heavy pull of temptation or testing drags me down.”


If we break a leg or have physical problems, as Christians, we don’t feel guilty then, so there is no need to when we suffer anxiety or depression. Nor when we must take medication or engage in talking therapies.


If Jesus was standing beside us, would we still be afraid? Matthew 28:20 reminds us that he said, “Surely I am with you always”, so cry out to him when we’re attacked by anxiety.


In her book Glorious Weakness, Alia Joy wrote, “There are so many among us who hurt, and we may never know we’re sitting next to someone barely holding all the pieces together when we gather together on a Sunday to sing rickety hymns and hear God’s word cracked open for us.”


Perhaps we need to be honest and share our anxiety with a trusted friend, hopefully in our corps. After all, if we can’t be honest there, where can we be? And if someone does confide in us, may we be willing to support them in their journey.


*James Burns is a freelance writer from the Dunstable Corps in the United Kingdom.


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