“Remember what God’s word says”, my husband said as I was lying down, going through another panic attack, with many of its physical symptoms. “I know”, I replied. “I know that God is good and His word is truth. I know that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places and I have a delightful inheritance. I know because He lives, I also will live and that’s real, objective truth. But once in a while, my subjective feelings get a little too loud.”
I think the panic/anxiety attacks began soon after I began to struggle with chronic pain. The frequent doctor visits and test results that were not conclusive began to become overwhelming. I didn’t know the Lord at that time, still living in sin and darkness, I felt extremely lonely and hopeless. Praise be to God, the hope of the gospel has reduced these panic attacks dramatically but the chronic pain remains and this is the point I wanted to get to: that God is always worthy of praise. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We are told to rejoice in every circumstance because as scripture continually shows us, God is sovereign, God is good, His word is firm, His promises never fail, He never leaves or forsakes his children through Jesus Christ and He makes all things work together for their good and for the glory of His Name.
I can’t count how many times during a Sunday church service or a friday night prayer, I have stood in physical pain and felt too weak to raise my arms up in worship and how often the thought nagged at me: “forget it, just leave and go home, you’re too weak.” By God’s grace, I have not given into that thought but have preached to my heart: “He is worthy.” And after that, it takes what feels like to me to be all my physical strength in that moment, to fully raise both arms in worship.
It might appear a small, almost insignificant victory, but I know it is not. A false, prosperity driven ‘Christianity’ will teach you to praise when life is going well, that suffering is always of the devil and they will preach (though they won’t really admit it!) as if God is not sovereign. But scrutinise these ideologies in the light of God’s truth, and they will not stand.
There is an inseparable relation between faith and the word and that these can no more be disconnected from each other than rays of light from the sun – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.6
Faith, with an understanding of God’s word, will show you that God is good and He is worthy of your praise no matter what you are going through, he is worthy to be praised with your dying breath. Some may, in bitter pain, object and say “but you’ve no idea what I’m going through, you don’t know what it’s like, you haven’t been in my shoes.” That might very well be true but I know whatever your problem, God is bigger. I love Psalm 8:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4
I love to look at the sky and see this magnificent creation of God, which is, only part of the outskirt of His ways (Job 26:14). It helps to put things in a little better perspective. It reminds me that I’m very small and that my God is very big; a wonderfully joyous and freeing realisation.
O Lord, my God, may I always praise your glorious name. From now, to my dying breath and forevermore. Amen.