Updated: Sep 6, 2019
The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. That's a mouthful. Our human brain responds to real and unreal danger. Anxiety and fear can mimic the same emotions you would have if you were in physical danger. Have you ever had a panic attack? I don't know about you, but I used to have several of them. There was a point in my life where I was averaging five to six panic attacks a week. Now, for some, that number may seem insane while others may wish they only had that amount of panic attacks in a week. Regardless of how many panic attacks someone may have had, each one has a strong impact on the person suffering from them.
I remember the first time I had a panic attack. I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. I was a professing believer, but didn't bear any fruit; it was mostly lip service. Being genuinely saved now I can say, with confidence, that I wasn't saved then. That's a blog post for a different day, though. Anyways, I was working at my job and I remember feeling hot all over. I felt dizzy, as if I were going to pass out right there. It was the strangest feeling. At that moment when the panic attack came I wasn't even thinking about anything that would cause anxiety. So why did my first panic attack happen at that moment? I don't know, and to be honest, I have never really gave the "why" anymore thought. All I know is that was a game changer for me. It was as if at that moment my brain gave my fears the green light to behave in a way that was so foreign to me.
That day began a trend for me--a day to day battle of the mind. I constantly had to redirect my thoughts, censoring what I exposed myself to and more. I was determined to get my life back. I started researching everything I could about panic attacks, anxiety and depression, because being depressed also became part of my life. I read books, talked to friends, and even started EFT tapping (https://www.healthline.com/health/eft-tapping). Some days were better than others and I was afforded a little relief. I was able to get through the day, but once the evening came and I was alone with my thoughts that's when it all seemed to go downhill. I would lay awake at night with my thoughts running. It didn't take long for symptoms of anxiety to start coming. I experienced heart palpitations, tightness in my chest, stomach issues, and more. My anxiety got so bad that it caused physical symptoms. Experiencing these symptoms then caused more anxiety and eventually led to depression. I was depressed about my anxiety, and how I let it lead so much of my life. Anxiety robbed me of some great moments with my family and stopped me from pursuing some amazing opportunities. It was exhausting; it’s even exhausting to write about it. I knew I needed a change.
At this time I was a professing believer but didn't bear any fruit. However, I was friends with some solid believers. I remember telling them about my struggles with anxiety. I was a bit embarrassed to say anything to them. Why? Because I knew I would be given the speech about "If you're really a Christian would you be anxious?" Well, Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." This verse doesn't have a hidden message. It is very clear. “Do not be anxious about anything.” I was trying to figure out why I couldn't believe that verse in the Bible.
The Bible is God's word. Paul composed Philippians while he was in prison-- a time that most certainly created anxiety. Yet Paul was able to discard the idea of anxiety during his imprisonment. My friends sent me that verse over and over. Eventually it got to the point where I was annoyed because I thought they weren’t giving me any valuable information to combat this anxiety. They were; I just wasn't listening.
My experience with anxiety started a turn of events that would lead me to genuine repentance and, ultimately, genuine salvation. I started praying about my anxiety. I replaced EFT tapping with prayer. That was different for me. I would pray and expect an immediate change but it didn't happen. However, it started to change my prayer life for the better. My conversations with God (prayers) were beginning to become more consistent. I was praying when I was driving in my car, taking a shower, and especially at night when I laid awake. I was just talking with Him and telling Him about my day.
I started to read my Bible more. I was hungry for God's word. I wanted to know what it said and how to apply it to my life. The more I read, the more I tried to understand why I was having this issue. Was there some sort of unrepentant sin in my life? Is that why I struggled with anxiety? I dug deep into God's word and was filled with a new understanding of my life and who God is.
This world can be scary. The world always seems to be one step away from another war or another school shooting. Children are being exposed to sinful behavior and are encouraged to embrace it. That alone can cause all sorts of anxiety and fear, but it shouldn't surprise us. This is Satan's world. He is the ruler of this fallen world and we should not be surprised by the events that are happening. He is the ruler of this world but that doesn't mean God is not sovereign. It always amazes me when people think they can live their best life here on earth. If your best life consists of earthly wealth and treasures then I can see why you would think you can live your best life here.
Matthew 6:19-21 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Where are you storing your treasures? Are you accumulating a heavenly inheritance or a worldly one?
God tells us that this world will pass away:
1st John 2:16-19 "16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."
As believers we can have blessed assurance or we can create our own fears and anxieties. We may think our way is best, and God's way can be on reserve, or a runner up sort of plan. We will always be anxious if you think our way is right. We are frail, sinful humans. We have feelings and opinions that change. Those feelings can change our responses to our fears and anxieties daily. The great news is that Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). I am not saying that I never have an anxious moment or feel depressed. What I am saying is I am now better equipped to deal with those feelings.
Do I think anxiety is a sin? That depends. I believe it can be sin when we live in a constant state of anxiousness. If our anxiety is caused by sin then we are to deal with that sin. That is when I believe it becomes sinful. I think a bit of anxiety can be normal. We can be deeply concerned about something in our life. However, it needs to be a healthy concern and not an overwhelming concern that controls your life.
Do you dwell in your anxious feelings? Do you forget God's word? God never promised that we would not have trouble in this world. In fact he tells us we will. (John 16:33) But, again, we have blessed assurance. We don't have to walk around in a constant state of depression and anxiety like the lost do. We can have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)
If you would like to speak privately about anxiety or depression please send me an email. I would love to pray with you.