The Oxford dictionary defines anxiety as: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
My childhood was steeped in a tradition of ominous concern for all outcomes. My mother is particularly gifted in creating worst-case scenarios. She was an apocalyptic prepper long before it became trendy.
Honestly, my inheritance of anxiety has been nourished and watered by me for many years. It’s a hard habit to break. My default setting is to worry first and pray later. I must intentionally surrender my fears and anxieties to God.
Does anxiety have a paralyzing grip on me?
Anxiety leaves me feeling small and weak and quite focused on myself.
Psalm 13 is a psalm of lament. The author feels desperate and without hope. I believe psalms of lament provide a liturgy for processing through feelings of deep sadness and fear. As I read the first two verses of Psalm 13, I notice the author feels overwhelmed with a state of lack and longing. Telling God exactly how I feel is never a problem. Crying out to him provides a chance to process my feelings, and that is the only healthy way to process them.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:1-2 ESV
In these opening verses, the psalmist expresses frustration with delay. “How long?” is a question focused on what I don’t have. I want a right now solution. The psalmist focuses on what he believes has not been considered or attended to by God. Have I questioned God’s timing on solving a problem I have prayed about? Choosing to believe that I am not getting what I deserve, and God is neglecting me, may cause me to become spiritually vulnerable to the enemy’s deceptions. I can choose to stop feeding the anxiety beast and stop focusing on what I don’t have.
How long? The real answer to that question is when it’s the best time according to God. The ideal timing of God’s provision for anything I ask for is based on things I don’t even know that I don’t know. Releasing my urgent need to know, brings freedom and peace.
The question in verse 2 feels like it was taken directly from my own life. “How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?”
Have I taken counsel or advice only from myself at times? Yes.
I believe that God designed us to thrive in community. Isolation can lead to seeking advice based solely on my own experience. Sometimes I need a fresh perspective from a godly friend or mentor. All too often, isolation can lead to sorrow or even depression. I can feel isolated in a room full of people. One lie that I have believed at times is that I am the only one to have experienced something. Or I am the only one to have made such a terrible mistake. There is very little new under the sun. If I am willing to be vulnerable with a trusted friend or family member, I might find someone else who can help me carry the burden, because he or she has traveled this road as well.
The second part of verse 2 asked about my enemy. Who is my enemy? The person who cut me off in traffic. The family member who betrayed my trust. The church leader who failed me when I needed her help the most. In the pain of the moment, any human may play a role.
Who is our real enemy?
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesian 6:12 ESV
My true enemy is Satan, and he utilizes spiritual forces that trespass into heavenly places. The good news is that God has provided the ultimate victory for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul goes on to challenge us to put on our spiritual armor.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV
When do I need to put on my armor?
We are called to suit up daily with the armor of God. Pray through each piece of armor and ask God to provide this for you and those you love. Carefully pray each verse and imagine you are putting each piece on.
- Fasten on the belt of truth
- Put on the breastplate of righteousness,
- Put on the shoes for your feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
- Take up the shield of faith
- Put on the helmet of salvation,
- Carry the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
What are the benefits of using the armor of God?
Suiting up with God’s armor will break the grip anxiety has on our minds and hearts. Putting on the armor will also free us up to accomplish some important kingdom-building work.
- Praying at all times – continually praying throughout the day and night
- Praying in the Holy Spirit – letting God guide our prayer agendas • Keeping alert –avoiding distractions
- Persevering— keep going• Receiving a renewed opportunity to pray for other Christians
Thank you, Lord, for your provision in times of fear and uncertainty. It is far too easy for me to allow anxiety to overwhelm and isolate me. Help me to cry out to you first and foremost. Help me to seek God’s counsel from friends and family. Remind me daily to put on the spiritual armor you have so generously provided. Help me to walk daily in greater freedom by surrendering every fear to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.