After struggling for years with some degree or another of depression and anxiety, I had my first panic attack last night.
My husband, faithful and unwavering, sat up with me in bed as my head grew increasingly lighter, my lungs struggled to stay full, my face tingled, and heart raced.
And all day today, I have felt the fatigue. I feel as though I’ve run a marathon with no training whatsoever.
In the hours that preceded the panic attack, I admitted that I don’t like the way my life looks right now. At twenty-three years old, I’m still struggling to figure out who I am. And a lot of times, it feels like I’m floundering, grasping vainly at straws in the middle of a crowd who has it all figured out.
Obviously, that’s not actually true. But we all tend to be absorbed by thoughts that we are the only one with this struggle or facing that trial. All the while, pretending to have it together.
This is not an easy thing to talk about, the fact that in the blink of an eye, anxiety robbed my lungs of air, and fear got the best of me. Its difficult to admit that I really don’t have anything figured out in the light of day.
There’s a book in the Bible, a book called Romans, and it has some pretty incredible words to offer about trials — words that my heart clings to in the midst of the turmoil of the unknown.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)
Another book in the Bible, James, reads that we can consider our trials pure joy. Chapter one, verse four says that perseverance works in us until we are mature, without any deficiency.
I’ve been hanging on for this hope that promises not to disappoint.
Because the world, my born into sin nature, will always let me down. We were created for so much more. We were created to house glory. We have been restored through the redemptive work of the cross, a love poured without measure.
So I wait on the Lord. I believe that He goes before me, and that He has already won the victory. I pray for strength and brace myself for the process: the journey of perseverance. There’s a verse in the Bible from Psalms, which assures that when we run the course of His commandments, He will enlarge our hearts (119:32). Being faithful, even in the small things, is the grit of perseverance. And I feel at peace with this, knowing that it is okay to take one step at a time.
But I also know that sometimes, answering yes to the small things can be harder than saying yes to the big things God asks us to do. So I will leave us with this final word of encouragement, found in 1 Chronicles 28:20 — “David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’”
He gives us a hope that will never disappoint, and He will not forsake us until the work in us is completed.
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