Finding God in Your Most Anxious Moments
1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I always knew that I was an anxious person. I get easily nervous and I am the type of guy who gets worried about pretty much everything. There have been nights I couldn’t fall asleep because I tend to overthink things that already happened or things that didn’t happen yet (i.e. things that I have no control over). I was never officially diagnosed with anxiety disorder because I was never evaluated. But recently, when I took a psychology test as a part of my ordination process, it affirmed that I am, in fact, a very anxious person – I scored 7.5 out of 10 for anxiety and 9 for apprehension and worrying. I am sharing my story because I know that I am not the only one who deals with anxiety. But let me tell you - it is time for us to stop feeling bad about ourselves and do something about it.
Allow me to share with you one of the most anxious moments of my life, which took place right after I graduated from seminary and before I came to Grace Church.
As my time in seminary was coming to an end, I began to ask God the most obvious questions: “Now what?” “Where do you want me to go?” “Where do you want me to serve and do ministry?” The only answer that I received from God was not to worry but to wait. I felt like God did not want me to look for a job so I didn’t. Although God told me not to worry, I couldn’t help but worry given my situation. We only had a few months left until we had to vacate our apartment. We had depleted almost all of our savings. Yohanan was only four at the time and we had recently found out that Su was pregnant with Vera. This is the reason we decided to name our daughter Vera, which means faith. We needed faith to deal with our situation.
Eventually, it was time for us to leave seminary. I didn't know what to do. This is when God led me to read and meditate on the Transfiguration narrative in Matthew 17. I thought God was telling me this: “Don’t be afraid. Get up and [go]!” (Mat. 17:7). I responded in frustration: "But go where?" I had nowhere to go. I had no money to make a deposit or pay rent. The only option that was opened to us was to go to live with my parents in New York who already lived with my sister and my niece and nephew. The nine of us ended up living in my parents' tiny apartment.
The situation was particularly hard for my pregnant wife who didn't have insurance, which meant that she couldn’t go to the doctor for checkups to make sure the baby is healthy. At one point, we got so bitter that we said, "God! What have we done wrong that you are punishing us and giving us this hard time!" Some of our relatives and friends asked me why I wasn't looking for a job. When I responded that I thought God did not want me to look for a job and wait, they told me that I was being irresponsible that I should do my part in order for God to do His. I was really hurt by some of the insensitive comments they made. This made me not want to meet or talk to anyone.
A day felt like a month. I began to think: “Should I go back to finance?” “Starbucks nearby is hiring. Should I work there?” “Should I contact the churches that previously offered me a position?” But as I prayed, God kept telling me to wait. He also reminded me that what I needed at the moment was not a job but increased faith. That is when I realized that I was lacking faith. I thought I fully trusted God but I didn’t. How many times have I preached and challenged people to "live by faith and not by sight?" But I myself didn’t have faith.
That is when I prayed to God admitting that I did not have such faith and asked him to give me the faith that I needed to fully trust and obey Him. So our family decided to hold worship services every day. We sang hymns, read the Bible, and prayed together. As we worshipped, we felt the presence of God and God spoke to us through His Word. As we continued to meditate on His Word and as we prayed together, God eventually gave us the faith that we needed. Although our situation remained the same (if not worse), we began to tell people about the work that God was doing in our lives.
For Your Reflection
Are you anxious? Are you afraid about something? Do you feel like you are not a good Christian since you get easily afraid and anxious? Let me tell you - It is perfectly normal to feel afraid and be anxious when situations change and when unexpected things happen. There will be times you feel weak and feel like you don't have enough faith to push through. That is completely normal.
But remember. This doesn't mean that we should continue to dwell in anxiety and fear, and let the enemy destroy our souls. Do not let your anxiety and depression control you and your life!
Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned from the Bible (1 Peter 5:6-11):
1. Humble yourself: Remember who you are. Admit your weaknesses and your failures. No one is perfect. We all need help (v. 6).
2. Trust God: Remember who God is. He is almighty and all-powerful (v. 6) who loves you and cares for you (v. 7) even when you don’t feel loved and feel alone. Also, trust in God’s perfect timing. He will lift you up in due time (v. 6).
3. Don’t listen to Satan: Be alert. Satan is a good liar. Resist him and don’t listen to him (v. 8). Instead of meditating on his lies, meditate the Bible throughout the day, which is filled with the truth and His promises.
4. Approach God: Constantly ask God in prayer to give you faith so that you can stand firm in the faith (v. 9). Actively cast all your anxieties on Jesus (v. 7). Stop thinking what you are worried about but instead kneel before God in prayer.
5. Share with others: Know that you are not the only one struggling. Share your struggles and worries and pray together with other believers (e.g. church members, Life Group, pastors, and teachers). You will be encouraged by each other (v. 9).
I am praying for you! Seek God with all of your heart this Lent season. You will experience healing and restoration that God has in store for you. Blessings.