Hope for the Panic-Stricken

[If you struggle with panic and anxiety the following true testimony from a young lady will be an encouragement to you.]

“I have often struggled with worry, anxiety and fear. When I was younger, my anxiety focused on what others thought of me, which resulted in feelings of panic that surfaced when I couldn’t control things going on around me. I was in bondage to the fear of man (craving the approval of others) and I didn’t trust the Lord, mainly because I didn’t really know Him like I thought I did. My sin separated me from God. Since I was raised in a home where my religion taught me a multitude of things I had to do to avoid God’s wrath, instead of freely accepting His mercy, grace, forgiveness and peace, I was not released from anxious feelings. I often worried whether or not I was good enough in the eyes of other people, or in God’s eyes. When God drew me to Himself and I repented of my sin and began to grow in a personal relationship with the Lord—a relationship characterized by prayer and reading and obeying his Word, the Bible—I became a new creature in Christ. My periods of panic did not immediately disappear the moment I was truly saved, and sometimes they still resurface, but what has changed the most is how I respond to these feelings. That has given me true freedom. 

Through biblical counseling received from my pastor, I was able to see that I often believed lies and acted upon them instead of on God’s truth. I was too focused on myself and my problems instead of on the Lord and His promises. One of the most eye-opening times for me came when I was asked if I thanked God for the trial I was experiencing. I hadn’t. I just wanted the “feelings” to go away. I wanted to be “normal.” I wanted an easier road, but God wanted to use my struggles to accomplish good in my life and bring him glory. As a result, I have learned… 

  • To be thankful and content in all things (Ephesians 5:20; Hebrews 13:5, 15; Philippians 4:11). 
  • To take off the old, self-focused thoughts and put on new, God-focused ones by memorizing Scripture and casting my fears on the Lord through prayer. Filling my mind with the things of God, instead of thoughts of myself or the ways of the world, was the only way to change my thinking. Medications prescribed to treat these types of “issues” (which I had tried before seeking biblical counseling) only masked the problems of my heart and served to provide a false hope that things would get better. I now am confident that God’s word is sufficient! (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 4:6-7).
  • I am now able to better help and disciple others who struggle with anxiety because of what God taught me through my own struggles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 
  • Ultimately, God is the only one I need to please and He cares so much for me. As long as I seek Him for wisdom and direction and treat others with self-less love, rather than pride, I am free to “need” approval from God alone (Romans 8:8; Matthew 10:28-31; Proverbs 3:5-8). 

This internal, heart change was not easy at first. However, with God’s strength I was able to memorize Scripture, adopt other godly disciplines, and humble myself to let Him change me. Each day the habits of seeking God’s will, rather than my own, get easier and He is being glorified in my life. I find that my heart—once filled with worry, anxiety and fear—is now filled with the love of God which casts out all that once controlled me. Now I know what it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, enjoying not the bitter fruits of my flesh but the sweet fruits He graciously gives to His children.”

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