2 Corinthians 1:8-10
(8) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
(9) Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
(10) He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
I've experienced a weariness of soul lately. I've battled anxiety and fear. I tend to run away and want to curl up in a corner that's safe and escape it all. But sometimes life won't let us escape. Fear and anxiety is like a relentless pounding away on you until you can't take anymore. I can almost relate to what Paul said above "Indeed, we felt that we received the sentence of death." Not that I am dying of anything but in my soul, I felt "the sentence of death" or that I was dying inside and could never stand up again. But, as Paul also said, "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." Sometimes we feel just dead inside and lose hope. No strength left for the griefs and sorrows it throws at us. No more fight in ourselves. No hope of happiness in this life again. The enemy of our souls brings us down further and further into the muck. He exaggerates the trial in our minds so that the battle is, in our mind, way beyond the actual facts and blown out of proportion. Or he blinds us to the real battle and the seriousness of it as we try for sanity's sake to block out reality.
God does neither. God reveals truth to our hearts always. He shows us the proper perspective rather than an exaggeration, and He also shows us the reality of a situation. Sometimes truth brings us fear and anxiety, but when God brings unpleasant truth to us, He also brings assurance of His presence, His power, and His deliverance so that we do not despair but rest in His unfailing love. So that we look beyond the trial and see Him. Long ago I wrote down a saying I read, "every impossibility is an opportunity for God to reveal Himself and show His strength." So many times since, I've had to put that to the test and say, "Lord, here's Your opportunity. Take it. It's too much for me."
I'm learning a few things about fear and anxiety and weariness. First of all, you'll never ever be free of fear if you are afraid of the fear. The more you run from it, the more it chases you down and overcomes you. It is like a roaring lion. We fear its torment. So we run from it. The fear of the fear is worse than the actual object we are fearing! It is a vicious cycle. Soon the panic beomes the thing you fear and you forget the reason for it. I used to have a recurring nightmare of a bear chasing me and I would run with all my might but as in dreams so often, my legs would become like lead, and not move and I would almost be overtaken by the bear and then I would wake up. I know at that time the dream was coming because of a particular fear that was chasing me. Finally I faced the fear. And in my dream I faced the bear and defeated him. Finally I faced my fear again recently and told myself, "so what if this fear causes me pain." It won't kill me. If it does, good! I'll be home with Jesus. But it won't. I CAN endure it, and I can go on because in the fear I have found the presence of Jesus there. Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, when I let the flames of fear surround me, they don't scorch me at all. The presence of Jesus is there with me in it and I find myself thankful for the trial that brought me to such a presence of His love and fellowship. I wouldn't know this fellowship outside of this furnace. So let the fear come. The flames won't kindle upon me. Christ is in me. I learned to lay down in the fear instead of struggling against it. If I perish I perish. But I didn't. I rose up again.
Another thing that I gained through my anxiety attacks, was again to go back to what the Lord had given me years earlier, to flood my mind with His Word. I again made a recording of Scripture and listened to it. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord raises up a standard against Him (Isa. 59:19). His Word is that standard.
God's Word is healing, soothing balm for the soul, faith building, and it is personally spoken to the heart of the believer who is trusting in Him and looking to Him. Again I experienced such a faith and confidence in my God through the midst of the fire of anxiety. I've always said anxiety is a greater pain than any physical pain I have ever endured. I understand my son's suicide because of the unrelenting anxiety he endured. I don't condone it and I know God had a better plan, and if we resort to that, we miss all God had planned in revealing Himself to us and blessing our lives. But I do understand the intensity and unbearableness of the pain and his inability to bear it any longer. If someone held your hand over a fire how long do you think you could keep it there? What if they gave you pain meds to help? Or stood near you patting you on the back cheering you on or trying to console you? NONE OF THAT would stop the intense pain of the fire consuming your hand and you would not even be able to think about anything else or listen to them. Many say suicide is an act of selfishness, and in some cases it may be, but much of the time, it is simply an act of escape from the horrible fire inside you. Only God Himself can walk into that fire with you and keep it from harming you and deliver you. God has a better way. We have to look to Him. I have found in the midst of my anxiety and unbearable pain, many times, that as I cry out to Him in my weakness and helplessness, and flood my soul with His life-giving powerful Word, He heals, He gives faith, He raises me up, He restores. He strengthens for the battle and enables me to rest in Him even as I cast my care onto Him and know the battle belongs to Him. He gives me the power of patience, as I wait for Him. I can afford the patience knowing He will come and He will answer, and He will do all He said "in yet a little while."
I guess I'm bearing my soul right now and exposing myself and making myself very vulnerable, yet I feel compelled to both reach out with hope for those who are struggling with this, and wanting to give God glory for the wonderful discovery of Him I am finding through it. I even truly (surprising to myself) came to the point I thanked God for the trial because of what I could see it producing in my heart. Yes there was still pain, but with it a sweetness and comfort. Just as there is nothing more painful in my mind than fear and anxiety, there is nothing more wonderful than God's very presence. I wish I could describe it, but there is no way to do that. You have to experience it. It's in our pain we experience the greatest manifestations of His very presence and reality, almost as tangible as if we could see Him face to face and reach out and touch Him. No - even more tangible than that, because He is on the inside of me manifesting His presence and power in me. I wish I could give that to every one of my readers without the pain of the trials, but it is the pain of the trials that brings that kind of presence to us. Because of that, I am no longer afraid of the fear. I'm no longer afraid of the anxiety. Let it come. Christ comes with it. His promises become more precious to me and more alive. His Word opens up to me and becomes my delight more than it ever could otherwise. He becomes my peace. He Himself. I no longer look for peace separated from Him. He IS my peace. It makes me want to walk very close to Him, abide in Him, and let nothing disturb that fellowship.
I know that I know He will answer my prayers, and that He will fulfill His perfect love and plan for me. I know that I know I can count on Him to see me through, even though I don't feel able at all. I know that I know my God is faithful and keeps His Word, and because I have been listening to His Word I know what He is saying to me and I have an answer to all the fiery darts of the enemy. They cannot penetrate this armor.
I also learned something about weariness. Sometimes we grow weary and just need to lie down. When you do, don't quit, don't give up, but lie down and rest. Rest in Jesus. Commit yourself and your life into His hands and casting all onto Him. Rest and let Him build you up again until you once again can walk and not faint, and run and not be weary. Rest in His promises. Let the hymns minister to you. Exhaustion can give us a distorted view of life and troubles. When Elijah was weary from the battle he became depressed and God gave him rest and fed him. So rest and let God feed you. You'll see everything differently. You don't feel that you can do the smallest task when you are weary and tired.
(28) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
(30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The burden becomes too much when we pull against the yoke and strive in ourselves. If we rest in His yoke we will find the strength to go on. When our soul is in intense battle, our bodies also become very tired and weak. We don't feel strength to go on. It is as we physically lie down and rest, quit striving, and learn of Him, letting Him reveal Himself to us that our bodies also find refreshment.
Our thought life plays a major role in our not becoming depressed. Paul said for a reason to "rejoice always." Our thought patterns can actually alter our brain waves. We can get stuck in a negative brain wave pattern. In order to pull out of it, we need to rejoice in the Lord, pray, trust, be thankful, think on the right things. At first this takes work. That's why I listen to Scripture. It does that for me.
(4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(5) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
(6) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
(7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
May the Lord minister to you and build you up in His faith today!