I must have struggled with anxiety for years before it really came to my attention. I just assumed it was part of life. But in the spring of 2012, I had my first big and sudden panic attack. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about what exactly a panic attack was and so the symptoms, the chest pains, rapid heart rate and shallow breathing and so on, were both frightening and confusing. These panic attacks continued and my daily anxiety reached an unprecedented level as I began to hate being alone even for just one hour. The fantasies were dark and deadly and it felt like they could very well become realities.
I was later referred to a psychologist and after a series of tests; I was diagnosed with a case of severe anxiety and mild depression. This happened during the second year of my law degree. It meant that I had to repeat the academic year as I was too unfit to prepare for the exams, let alone sit and pass them. Looking back, my greatest regret is that in all those times, I didn’t call on God. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t pray. I didn’t ask for prayer. I didn’t seek Jesus. I put my hope in this world and accumulated for myself idol after idol, hoping that they would bring me peace. They did not. They are dead gods.
The bible talks a great deal about fear and anxiety. To sum up, I’d say the message of the bible regarding this is not to fear anyone or anything in this world. Have only one fear, and that is the fear of the Lord. This is a good fear. It leads to repentance, it leads to life. For the Christian, the fear of the Lord is more like a reverence and awe. We stand in awe at the fact that though we were at once by nature deserving of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), He saved us according to his grace (Ephesians 2:8). This is an awe-stricken and appropriate fear.
We tend to tell ourselves lies and convince ourselves of unbiblical fears. The world also wants us to view things through its lenses and not from the lenses of the bible. Satan, too, wants to instil inappropriate fears in us. All these wage war against the peace of our minds. This is a type of spiritual warfare. It is a distraction to firstly make sure your eyes wander away from Jesus and then eventually and unbeknownst to you, destroy you. You will not win this unless you are firmly rooted in God’s word and hold fast to what Jesus tells you. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul writes:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
You’ll need to know God’s word if you want to make your thoughts obedient to it. You need to spend time with God, praying and reading His word so that you may distinguish between truth and false.
I believe the root of my anxiety issues was that I used to have no hope. I also felt like I had to walk this life alone and fend all for myself. It was a heavy burden. God showed me this isn’t true. The bible tells me that I don’t have to walk alone, He is with me. I don’t have to fend for myself because God is my provider. And my hope is unshakeable because my hope is in God. Open your bible and see for yourself. Put your hope in Jesus. He is undefeatable.