(Putting an "X" through Anxiety by Louie Giglio)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1 ESV)
Everyone’s anxiety is complex and unique. Your situation is not exactly like the next person's. But all of us have the same hope today—God is fighting for us.
Walking free from panic attacks, depression, fear, and worry is a process, one with many steps and turns. But the key to living untangled from anxiety is not a plan, but a person.
Your hope is not in a formula, although a formula may be helpful. Your hope is not in a set of principles, although truth will set you free. Your hope is not in a prescription, although one may be necessary for a season. (I know this statement might cause some to “deplane” from our journey, but I would not categorically rule out the potential of God using professionals to aid your freedom). Your hope is in Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. He is the way, the truth, and the life. And He is inviting you to allow him to lead you through whatever you are facing in this world.
God understands that we get stressed in life. Dozens of places in Scripture speak directly to anxiety, and hundreds to fear and worry. Why? Because people have always been anxious, and God understands that better than anyone.
Arguably the best-known text in the Bible is Psalm 23. At the core of this Psalm is an extraordinary offer from God— namely, that he will lead and guide us through every season. Specifically, God promises to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, that dark place where we doubt everything good and fear every possible negative outcome.
Do you know a valley like that?
Does it seem like someone or something is lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce and destroy you or those you love?
Do you feel isolated and alone, as if no one understands the crushing load you are under nor the enemy you fear?
Or is your valley less defined—a hard to describe cloud of doom that descends on your best thoughts, turning life into a shadowy mist of confusion?
If so, God is offering to walk with you through this valley. The way out is not in following a plan, rather being led by a person. Your hope is in Jesus.
I know this may sound simplistic and elementary. But it’s amazing how many times we run to a website, a friend, a diagnosis or a book when the God of heaven is standing right in front of us. Jesus is the light in the darkness and he’s offering to be your Shepherd in whatever valley you are in.
In Psalm 23 we see Jesus as the Great Shepherd, and ourselves as His sheep. Being called a sheep by God is no stunning compliment, rather, a reminder that like sheep we don’t see very well and often do not make the wisest decisions. Sheep are not so swift and can be weighed down by their heavy wool. Not to mention they have predators at every turn, a lion or bear or cougar waiting to take them out. Basically, sheep are helpless without a shepherd. And so are we.
The good news is that Jesus is offering to lead, provide, protect, and preserve you through the darkest valleys and most imposing nights. I invite you to call on him right now, out loud.
In Luke’s gospel we read about a blind man who was begging by the roadside in Jericho. Hearing a commotion he learned that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Without even being able to see him he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Those in the crowd told him to be quiet, but he yelled even louder.
Amazingly, Jesus heard his cries above the chaos, stopped, and healed him.
You may feel like God is a billion miles away, believing your voice wouldn’t even get past the walls of the room you are in if you were to call on him. But, the name of Jesus is power. Call on him now. Tell him you can’t see him but you have heard he is near. Ask him to stop and consider the pit of depression you are in. Tell him you want him to lead you through the valley of anxiety. You may not know how he’s going to do it, but in faith tell him you know he can.
Tomorrow, we will look at how our personal connection with our Shepherd, Jesus, can reshape our view of the giants of anxiety, fear, worry and depression.