Over the years, anxiety and panic attack have been some sort of thorn in the flesh that I seem to constantly live with. I’ve always thought I will grow out of it all as time goes by, but I guess I may be wrong for now atleast. Like the Apostle Paul who lived with a thorn in the flesh, there are times when I groan in the spirit, and I feel The Spirit groaning within me, because I’m not sure if I ought to pray for deliverance, or faith, and strength to endure. But I do take heart knowing full well that God’s Grace is more than sufficient for me.
“A panic attack can go from 0 to 100 in an instant. It is halfway between feeling like you’ll faint and feeling like you’ll die.” “It can hit at any time. You feel like you are in an open field, and there’s a tornado coming at you. And you’re just consumed by it” – Kim Basinger
A specific thorn in the flesh is often associated with a great blessing from the hand of God. It is often associated with a special power and revelation from the hand of God. In 2 Corinthians 12, the scripture reveals that Paul was given an incredible revelation from God that not many human being can comprehend. Paul tells us that because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, God permitted Satan to give him a thorn in the flesh so to prevent him from becoming conceited.
Metaphorically, the use of the word thorn in this passage can be referred to as a splinter, it’s so sharp and painful when it penetrates. And the word flesh may be referred to as the physical body or the unregenerated part of the person. When the apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to take away the thorn in the flesh. God told him simply that:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8
This may sound like a contradiction. How can strength be made perfect in weakness? I believe what God was saying to Paul is this, “Focus on My Grace, and the power of My Grace, it will make your weakness look like strength. Focus on My security, not your insecurities.” God’s power operates at its best in our weakness, not in our strength. Therefore, for this reason, we ought to boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on us, for His Grace is more than sufficient for us.
“Anxiety is the pre-occupation with the unimportant things in life, and the false reasoning that if those things are attended to, life will be great and wonderful” – Dr. Michael Youssef.
Anxiety is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it won’t take you very far. When we become anxious, we can easily miss out on hidden things and on what is really important. It was anxiety that caused Martha to be pre-occupied with the unimportant (preparing the perfect meal), instead of sitting to listen attentively at the feet of Jesus with her sister Mary. Jesus went on and said to Martha (Luke 10), “There is only ONE thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” From Mary’s story alone we learn at least two things:
- The fear of God truly is the beginning of Godly wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
- God wants us to be only anxious for ONE thing alone, – our Salvation (Philippians. 2:12).
Mary must have been listening attentively to Jesus because only Godly wisdom could have given her insight to understand about Jesus’ mission and his call for humility. Somehow it seems she recognized that the Lord’s time was at hand, which prompted her to pour out a very expensive perfume on the head and feet of Jesus which she also wiped with her hair. And even when she was condemned for doing so, she did not even try to defend herself, but Jesus came to her defense anyway. I believe Mary showed us that Christ Jesus was her portion, her highest price possession, her focus.
God only wants us to be anxious only for our Salvation because when we are, God knows we would not be consumed by anxiety caused by anything else. Ultimately, Salvation in all is truly and completely an everlasting irrevocable gift from God (Romans 11:29) for those who truly believe (John 3:16) in the Son, Jesus Christ. And by working out our Salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), we will not only bear fruit but we will delight ourselves to love, trust and obey God.
It is said of most great men of God that they feared man so little because they feared God more. David not only faced Goliath but also defeated him with a single blow; Moses who was not eloquent enough and slow to words and speech led the whole of Israel through it all; Jeremiah at a young age answered to the calling of God; and so forth…
Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced. Evil thrives when good men do nothing and without courage, there is no virtue. Even war is ultimately not about the bullets that you shoot or the blood that you spill, but it is the stand that you make against the evil that God will bless and honour.
“Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth” – John Wesley
In all truth, there is no such thing as a fearless person, but a person living in fear is a person behind bars more powerful than steel. Throughout the Bible, the Word of God tells us “FEAR NOT” so to assure us of the promise, comfort, security, and peace found in God alone.
- Fear not life. Why? “For I am the way the truth and the life” – John 14:6
- Fear not death. Why? ” For I am He that lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.” – Rev. 1:18
- Fear not the unknown. Why? “For I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” – Rev. 22:13
- Fear not evil. Why? “For thou art with me. thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” – Psalm 23:4
- Fear not life problems. Why? “For God is our refuge, He is our strength, the very help in times of need or trouble” – Psalm 46:1
- Fear not what others can do to us. Why? “In God I have put my trust. I will not fear what flesh can do to me” – Psalm 56:4
The biggest deception that Satan has managed to sell the believers is that they can prolong their lives. Here is what Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Nothing or nobody can take a believer’s life unless God permits it. Fear of death for a born-again Christian is ludicrous. Why? Because absence from the body is to be present with the Lord, which is far better (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Yes, we are commanded by God to be stewards of our body, to pray for healing, to take the medicine, to follow the doctor’s direction to do all these things, but nevertheless, we can never prolong our lives. Somehow our society seems to be spending their health to get wealth and once they get wealth they spent their wealth in order to get their health back, but then its too late by that time. In all seriousness, there can be no denying that we believers are to be good stewards of our body as long as we reside on this side of heaven. The Holy Spirit indwells in us and where the Holy Spirit dwells, abuse and carelessness of the body should not be even contemplated.
Anxiety is a kind of weed that chokes up the peace God gives us freely. Someone once said that people in general, cannot bear very much reality. Absolute peace is impossible in this life, that unadulterated joy is only possible in Heaven. True contentment can only be experienced when we see Jesus face to face. The following story is apparently true:
A couple who were alarmed at the condition of our society undertook a serious study of all the inhabitable places on the face of the globe. Their goal was very simple – to find the most peaceful place of uttermost serenity on the face of the earth. Finally, they found it, they really found it, and then moved there and built their dream home. It was in the Faulkner Island. I guess we all know how this ends… Months later, it became a war zone as Great Britain and Argentina fought it out.
I personally think our inner discontent and restlessness can often be as a result of a deep desire to glorify God and to experience His glory in our lives. Our lack of contentment keeps us wandering-if not always geographically, at least internally. In Christ alone, we are assured of peace that passes all understanding that gives life to the body. It is this same peace Jesus said He leaves with us, and gives to us, unlike the peace the world has to offer or offers to us which is only temporary.
Lord Your mercy is so great, that You look beyond our weakness and find purest gold in miry clay making sinners into saints. O God, even when my heart is overwhelmed, please lead me to the Rock that is greater than I (Psalm 61).