Today I asked author and blogger Renee Fisher to share with us about how anxiety has transformed her life and motivated her to continually pursue God. You can learn more about Renee here, as well as following her on Twitter @devotionaldiva — and don’t forget to cruise over and check out her books Not Another Dating Book and Faithbook of Jesus: Connecting with Jesus Daily.
The Greatest Motivator
There is nothing else on this planet that motivates me more than my sufferings.
Every time I experience the anxiety that plagues me, my immediate reaction is to run! My body tenses up and I can’t breathe. I grasp for my throat only to find my hands are already shaking. My pastor once said, “Stand up to trials and run away from temptation.” My flesh is real good at doing the opposite. If I’m honest, I’d rather not focus on my anxiety. I’d rather numb my mind in front of the television while I eat more junk food.
As much as I hate my anxiety–it keeps me in check. I have to ask myself questions like, “Am I sinning to avoid the truth?” “What am I so afraid of?”
Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away, and I am left with panic attacks. Other times I realize it’s just my flesh readjusting to new surroundings–like a new husband and a new house. I even have an office now. Sometimes I think I become anxious because I have so much freedom in a whole room to myself.
My anxiety is a point of suffering in my life, and I guess I still struggle with accepting it. Even when everything is going great, I am always afraid that my anxiety is going to come back and shake my confidence once again.
I thought marriage would quiet my anxiety. Nope! I quickly learned in my first few weeks of marriage that God continues to allow my thorn in the flesh. Sometimes I hate that He won’t allow me to get the least bit comfortable, and yet I am joyfully surprised at times to see how God uses what I see as suffering to motivate me into godly action. What a comfort to know I have a perfect example to follow. When I feel lost, hurt, and overwhelmed by my anxiety, I can once again be motivated by the sufferings of Jesus.
The more I study the life of Jesus, I see how He didn’t waver. He did everything the Father asked Him to do–even if it meant suffering. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are and yet He did not sin.
Let that sink in for a moment!
“He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed” (1 Peter 2:22-24, NLT).
My sufferings teach me how to grow.
I have learned to embrace these times of quiet fellowship with God. When the panic attacks come I know God is waiting for me. All I need to do is surrender my pride. Easier said than done. The nature of anxiety is to take the focus off God and onto myself. I’m the one who’s suffering. As much as I struggle with the disruptions–I’ve learned to simply humble myself. The more I wrestle with God, the longer it takes for God to teach me these vital truths impertinent to my character.
If I can learn what He is trying to teach me–then He removes my anxiety. Not always, and not right away, but I can trust God to show me what to do.
Some days God uses my panic attacks to call me into action. The more time I spend in prayer the better. I remember to take my thoughts captive to Christ–not myself. Through reading the Word and other devotionals, I am able to stop worrying and let Him take control.
When I finally reach the point of giving everything to God, I can feel the release. My hands stop shaking, my throat stops closing, and I can breath again. I hear the words of the Lord from Exodus 14:14 that say, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
I am thankful how much God has used my anxiety to motivate me into prayer and reading the Word. Some days I feel this is all I do. I feel plagued by my thoughts of worthlessness.
But I know better.
If it weren’t for that deep longing in my heart to allow God to use my anxiety to motivate me into a closer walk with Him, I truly believe I would have missed out on so many spiritual lessons.
When my husband and I first married I would take my anxiety personally. If I could just try harder, God would show me what to do. I furiously searched for the lesson God was trying to teach me.
But there are two of us now.
I love that God has given me a husband, but he has limits too. He works long hours, and when I take the focus off myself and on to serving the needs of Marc my anxiety is transformed. It’s not all about me anymore.
My sufferings are not all about me; they are for my husband and for those God calls me to serve! I’m so glad God uses our greatest fear to motivate us into acts of service. I now use Hebrews 10:24 as my ministry verse because it reminds me of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Do you know where you’re going? Ask the Lord to give you the strength to be used by Him. Even if that means, like me, He uses your greatest fear as the greatest motivator in your life.