Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on anxiety. Each of our experiences with anxiety is very different based upon who we are as a person and the circumstances that we find ourselves in. We are writing about the experience of anxiety from many different angles so you may not find every article as helpful to you as another one that better describes your experience. The good news is that the Bible isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide to life, but be confident that the answers found in the Bible can help you. God does understand what you are going through, and He will guide you.
In this testimony, Carol Wright (BCC Counselor in Northwest Indiana) details how God has brought her through some severe and debilitating struggles with anxiety.
Every fall season, some community in Indiana has an “OZ Fest.” It summons up mental pictures of the OZ Squad tiptoeing through the forest in dread of the lions, tigers, and bears. (oh my!) What could have been a nice walk to Oz turns into dread-filled trepidation. But, is their dread and anxiety over the unknown much different from ours?
Truthfully, like anger, fear has many faces. Dread and anxiety are two we might not think as much about, but like rain on our parade, dread causes many complications. As a former “dread-er”, I’d like to share my experience with battling my anxiety and what helped me.
Dread kept me from being punctual in appointments and deadlines. It kept me from going back to school, and it kept a little, invisible black cloud hanging over my head (think doom and gloom). My mindset was that if the worst could happen, it would. However, one day that started to change.
I was running late for the dentist (as usual). It occurred to me that the dentist’s time and his staff’s time were just as important as my own. Convicted, I had to ask myself, was I considering others better than myself or was my dread making me selfish (Phl 2:3)? God’s next step in my correction was right around the corner.
Stumbling upon Psalm 27, I saw that in the first verse alone, fear and trembling could easily be translated as dread (and trembling could certainly be anxiety). Reading on, David has a lot to say about fear, foes, and enemies, versus the goodness and protection of God (Ps 27:5). Oh, my! This caused me to take an inventory of my “His-story” with God. Had He ever failed me? In hindsight hadn’t even events that seemed evil turned out for good? I remembered the story of Joseph: abused, sold into slavery, betrayed, and yet a generation (and more) was saved through his faithfulness and trust (Gen 50:20).
I remembered Joshua and God’s command to be bold and courageous for His God, the Lord, was with him wherever he went (Joshua 1:9). As anxiety and dread over aging decisions appeared, I remembered Isaiah 46:4 “even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” So, God’s provision, protection, and care have no expiration date.
Jesus Himself pointed out that we should not worry (Luk 12:29) and that our Good Father never gives us bad gifts. We may not understand them (1 Co 13:12) but, they are never bad. Even His thoughts toward us are to prosper us and not to harm us (Jer 29:11).
God had led me to the pieces of the puzzle, now my job was to repent and put off dread and anxiety and put on trust and peace. I saw myself as the Cowardly Lioness in the Oz Squad and it wasn’t pretty. Gradually, I started to put on right praying, right thinking, and right living (Phl 4:6-8). I prayed about every dreadful situation and asked for a God-pleasing, Kingdom-building outcome. I started thinking about whatever was true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable (I had to drag my thoughts out of the whatever gutter).
Who is in charge of this world? Our Father is still on the throne and He is greater than any “great and powerful Oz” of this world. Lastly, I had to pull myself up and remember that my dread and anxiety were not right living, it was a sin, period. I had been given the tools of power, love, and self-discipline to overcome sin through the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 1:7).
Puncturing the cloud of doom over my head didn’t happen immediately, but gradually the trip through the forest of life became a hike and not a dread-filled expedition. My writing may be light-hearted, but the message is simple. We serve a Father who loved us enough to send His Son to die for all humanity. If He cares that much and even knows if a sparrow falls (Mat 10:29), He surely knows your dread and anxiety and is way out ahead of you!
When you see the Oz Squad, think about how much different their scenario would have looked with faith and right thinking at the core. They would have realized that they already had the Godly attributes of courage, heart, and discernment before their trek in the woods. Of course, then Indiana would have to find a new fall celebration.