Anxiety confronts us all. Circumstances will always arise that cause a fight or flight response from us. Sure, we may manage stress, but it does not make us immune from it. This fact should not discourage us. Rather, we should be encouraged because we are no different than anyone else. Plus, there are effective coping techniques to assist us, if we will use them.
As Christians, our primary coping mechanism should be faith in Jesus. Not just a faith that saves, but a faith that comforts us daily in each circumstance. See, we forget that the grace of Jesus is available to us so we can rest in Him than in ourselves. In fact, I believe God allows anxieties into our lives to serve as constant reminders that we need to rely on Him than ourselves. In other words, if you are a very anxious person, then rejoice because God loves you. He loves you so much that he allows anxiety as a discipline in your life so that we will relate to Him more intimately (Heb 12:5-8).
Personally, this lesson is one where a continue workplace conflict taught me this lesson. For months I was employed at a very dysfunctional organization. Not only did I have multiple bosses over a short amount of time, but the rules of the office were frequently changing. During this time I was constantly sick. From athletes foot to many upper respiratory infections to high cholesterol for the first time, I was continually ill. As one coworker stated, “This job is literally killing you!” Her comment was correct, but so was my anxious response, which caused the various illnesses.
Admittedly my response was more focused on myself and the circumstances than solely trusting Christ. Yes, I still engaged in my faith, but I also began to rely on myself too much. Now removed I know my angst was an opportunity to grow my faith than just be relieved from it. As God’s still small voice taught me towards the end, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God’s reminder from II Corinthians 12:9-10 showed me that Christ’s grace is there to help during my anxiety, not just to get me past my pain.
In closing, this recent period in my life has helped me understand worry to a new depth. In the future, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more too as there’s always plenty to learn. For now, though, it’s important to remember that God allows anxiety in our life because He longs for us to grow in our intimacy with Him. He knows we are stubborn (just look at my recent example), but God allows our anxious moments for us to rest in His grace. Realizing this distinction is important: too often we focus more on our prosperity than the reward of relating to the God of the universe. When we think about grace in that way, our temporary success from our anxiety pales in comparison than the opportunity to grow more intimate with Jesus.