All of us at some time or other experience anxiety … It hits us, once in a while, for a short period of time—that’s natural with life; but God does not want us living with anxiety. For example, when you get blindsided by something—[say,] you hear that your son or your daughter was in an accident or something had happened—suddenly [you] feel anxious because [you’re] uncertain about what happened and how it happened and what the consequences are. So all anxiety is not bad. But the issue is, what do we do with it and how long does that anxiety live within us and carry the kind of consequences that it does? … It’s a faith battle … In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul is saying, “Here’s the plan: Bring it to God."
—Charles F. Stanley
Illustration by Adam Cruft
I’ll start with the end of the story and let you know it all turned out fine. But that was only after my family was caught off guard by a scary medical finding and spent 48 anxious hours contending with what-ifs. And so we all prayed—not only for a good outcome but also for a specialist’s appointment sooner than the one-month wait roadblocking us.
God’s graciousness was palpable: The second specialist we called had an opening that very day and quickly set our minds at ease. He reassured us that despite the report’s dire-sounding terminology, this particular finding was common, non-life-threatening, and easy to address, even if it ever proved to be the unlikely “worst-case scenario.”
And so, just two days after we received hard news, life resumed and looked a lot like life before. Only, it was different. And while our situation cannot compare with the magnitude of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’s miracle (John 11:1-44), I do see this similarity: Believers are permanently changed by the Lord’s loving, personal touch—a touch often experienced through times of adversity. Once Lazarus was called forth from the tomb, would he or his sisters ever face ominous situations with pre-resurrection anxiety?
Believers are permanently changed by the Lord’s loving, personal touch—a touch often experienced through times of adversity.
For my family, receiving God’s specific answers to prayer reinforced what Isaiah 64:4 tells us—that He hears, cares, and acts on our behalf. But how we weather frightening challenges is affected by our confidence in that truth.
One key is to somehow stay mindful of God’s track record in our life and not let panic distract from what we’ve experienced of Him—the faithfulness He has shown and wants to manifest again. And since staying aware requires continually rehearsing the Lord’s goodness, it’s no wonder we find a recurrent scriptural theme of remembering and proclaiming the Lord’s mighty deeds. (See Deut. 5:15; Deut. 6:12; Deut. 7:18; Deut. 24:18; Isa. 12:5; Ps. 9:11; Ps. 78:4; Ps. 105:1.) I find that each retelling of how God has shown up in my life not only advertises Him to others but also solidifies my certainty that He cares about the details.
So whenever you see the Lord at work, journal it! Tell your kids! Text your friends! And let your own words bolster your conviction that He’s up to something good, even in the hard things. If you’re like me, I suspect that will strengthen your reflex to turn to Him quickly when the next crisis arises. And if your life is like mine, it won’t be long before you have opportunity to test my theory.