My chest tightens. I feel nauseous. I can’t think of anything else. I feel as though I’m going to suffocate. Anxiety. A word that I’m sure everyone has some acquaintance with. It can completely shut out all other senses. When anxiety comes to visit, it demands the entire stage. There’s no room for joy or peace. It captivates our attention.
Anxiety is all-consuming
For years I have dealt with anxiety. Ever since I was a little girl, irrational fears have plagued my mind. I would stay up late into the night, hearing every little creak the house made. What if someone breaks in and holds us at gunpoint? My ten-year-old self was paranoid, and as a result, my body suffered from lack of rest. As I grew older, these ridiculous fears developed into more realistic scenarios. But they were just as paralyzing. Because of my high-strung nature, it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed and have feelings of panic.
Living in our fast-paced culture, it is all too easy to become stressed and fearful about what the day might bring. So often we find ourselves living apart from reality because we are in the land of “what ifs.” For me personally, it’s easy to close off people and what is happening around me because my mind is playing out scenarios of how things could go wrong, and making a detailed plan of how to prevent that from happening. I can let relationships be affected because I’m so consumed with fear.
I want to introduce you to someone like me, and maybe like you. Fear consumed her, so much so that Jesus confronted her. Martha was a woman who dealt with a lot of stress. Her mind was like ours—consumed with what she had to do. One day Jesus came to visit her and her sister, Mary.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).'”
Jesus reminded Martha that her fears and worries were not of eternal value. What consumed her at the moment would eventually not matter. Mary, however, chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. She understood that ultimately, Jesus had her. No, her life wasn’t struggle free. At the time, the Israelites were living under the severe oppression of the Roman Empire. Fears about money, food, and general welfare were undoubtedly real. But Mary knew that her Lord and Savior was far more precious than anything she could be busy doing. She laid her fears to rest in order to sit at the feet of Jesus, to learn from Him and delight in Him. Martha, on the other hand, was so concerned with getting things checked off her list that she forgot whom she was serving. Jesus wanted a relationship. He didn’t want Martha to be so consumed with worry and anxiety.
When we truly sit at Jesus’ feet, our lives fall into perspective. Living in the ultra speedy Western culture, we are constantly “doing.” We feel the pressure to be achieving, always looking for a way to be more successful. Fears about being “enough” suffocate us. Our joy is robbed. Peace is elusive. The thoughts in our minds revolve around fear.
But Jesus calls out to us
He did not intend for us to live life in chaos. He is the Prince of Peace. His desire is for His precious children to sit at His feet, in the midst of the loud voices and distractions of the world. Despite the soft but chilling voice of anxiety. Jesus overcame fear when He died and rose from the grave. We are not to live our lives in a way that seems like Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).”
Jesus calls us beyond our fears and draws us into his perfect peace.
Our perspective needs changing
When we’re distracted by our own concerns, we fail to realize that our relationship with Jesus is strained.
It’s difficult to see beyond the here-and-now. Our problems are stare us right in the face. However, when we gaze at the face of Jesus, our perspective changes. Viewing situations in light of eternity completely changes our outlook. Bring your fears and bring your stress. Lay them at the feet of Jesus. Gaze upon His loving face. Let His peace which surpasses all understanding fill and mend your fearful, shattered soul.