I had an anxiety attack a little while ago. My vision blurred, my face flushed, and I felt pins and needles all over my body. It was as if I were paralyzed.
I’ve never been prone to anxiety before, so I didn’t know what was happening and it terrified me. I found myself face down on the floor of my bedroom, Bible gripped in my shaky hands, begging God to bring his peace.
Several weeks later, the physical effects of this anxiety attack have since passed, but the unsettled feeling in my spirit persists. Unfortunately for me, I’m one of those people who wears my emotions on my face, so it didn’t surprise me much when a good friend took note of my somber expression. “You don’t smile much anymore,” she kindly said as she reached for my hand.
It was coming from a loving place, but the words stung. Trust me, I knew that I didn’t smile much and it killed me.
“If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’ I still dread all my sufferings…’ (Job 9:27-28 NIV)
I really wanted to. I wanted to forget my complaint; to change my expression and just smile again, but I knew that even if my countenance changed, the turbulence in my spirit would remain.
It was almost more painful to try and fake peace than to just accept the season of life I was in. I simply couldn’t smile anymore.
Changes I didn’t choose…
What my friend didn’t know was that in the months and weeks leading up to this anxiety attack, the trajectory of my life had taken several twists and turns, many of which I would have never chosen for myself or anticipated.
There was financial strain once again along with an impending move into a new apartment complex in attempts to ease this financial burden. I was transitioning into a new church family, developing new friendships while trying to maintain and support old ones. I had just recently taken up a new, good ministry opportunity that brought with it a lot of fear and uncertainty, making it difficult at times to hear and trust God. Life had become serious and scary, as I couldn’t see the next step in front of me anymore.
We all know that feeling, right? I’m sure many of you can relate. Sometimes we are able to catch the waves of life and simply glide, feet planted firmly beneath us, letting the pace of our everyday joys and challenges propel us forward.
And then there are other days when those same waves turn violent, causing our feet to come out from under us and crushing us one blow after the other. That’s where I found myself.
“What I had feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:24-25 NIV)
Trying to find hope in God’s word…
It’s usually in the times when we’re way in over our heads that we can’t seem to turn our brains off. We constantly try to come up with solutions that will bring us peace and somehow get us back on track.
And while it’s easy to find direction and understanding in the Word of God when things are going well, his Word sometimes becomes cumbersome for us, or confusing when life turns heavy.
I knew that I needed to be in God’s Word now more than ever. I knew that it was my only solid ground; the light unto my path, but I didn’t even know where to start.
I wanted to be able to pick up where I had left off in my biblical counseling studies, but I couldn’t even manage to make much sense of that anymore. Instead, I found myself trudging through the despair of Job. It was depressingly relatable as Job recoiled against the anguish and misery that had come against him.
Yet, as I continued through the chapters of this often avoided book of the Bible, I began to feel a slight rush of enlightenment in my spirit. What I had never realized was that there are actually glimmers of the Gospel in Job’s anguish!
He expresses his longing for ‘someone to mediate between us [Job and God], someone to bring us together…’ (Job 9:33 NIV)
Even before the mention of Jesus’ name; even before the prophecies of Isaiah or the insights of the Minor Prophets, Job recognized his need for a Savior! And even more so, how joyful and relieving it is to know that we do have a mediator! We do have someone who brings us, God and mankind, together in perfect rightness.
Hope in a living Redeemer…
While many of Job’s complaints and confusion were deeply relatable to me, my heart rejoiced in the hope that if Job could remember God’s goodness and presence in the midst of his suffering, then so could I, for ‘I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!’ (Job 19:25-27 NIV)
Even more than my desire to return to normalcy; even more than my wanting to smile with joy and lightness in my spirit again, my heart yearns within me to see the face of my Father.
Sometimes it truly feels impossible to smile.
But we can still hope. We can still rejoice in the glimmers of the gospel that show up in the turbulent seasons of life.
We can still rest in knowing that our Redeemer lives. We still know that in the end, victory is his; the outcome is good because we are in him. And we know that though our bodies waste away; that though our hearts are troubled and our emotions may be depleted, we will be restored and we will see God with our own two eyes.
So friend, if you feel like you can’t smile anymore, put your hope in the God who restores. Turn your eyes to your Redeemer who lives.