Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “Christian Devotions & Quick Studies” along with 33 other articles and is available for purchase in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
I have a serious heart condition. It has plagued me for the past twenty-two months since October, 2010. Specifically, my problems originate with the heart’s electrical system and not with the blood vessels (coronary heart disease). The pumping function of my heart is strong. The electrical system that regulates the pumping function is erratic.
Doctors have concluded via a heart biopsy that my electrical problems were caused by an as yet unidentified virus that attacked my heart causing inflammation which resulted in scarring as the inflammation healed. The scarring interferes with the consistent transmission of the electrical signal across my heart, particularly in the lower ventricular chambers. The official medical terms for my condition are heart block, atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation. Over the course of many months, my doctors tried several medication combinations before settling on the current mix. I also underwent a ventricular ablation which cauterized a number of the worst offending tissues within my heart. As a result of these abnormal medical conditions, I have an implanted defibrillator/pacemaker that helps control my heart rhythm and delivers a shock to restart the heart in the event of a significant issue. I also take a number of strong medications to help control the various conditions.
The good news is that things have recently settled down and I am making steady progress recovering with no significant heart incidents over the past three months. That was not the case for the previous six months. On the other hand, the medications have, at least in part, caused what doctors refer to as a “chemical imbalance” within my brain that affects the neurotransmitters (click the link for a detailed description of the function of neurotransmitters). This chemical imbalance contributes to a heightened level of anxiety. Admittedly, fear is also a contributor to my anxiety … fear that my heart will stop, fear that I will receive another shock, fear that I might not be revived, fear that I might injure someone else if I pass out driving, fear that ______ (you fill in the blank).
It took a long while for me to admit that fear is really involved with my condition and interfering with my normalcy, but there is now no doubt in my mind about it. Early on I didn’t believe that I was fearful enough to blame that for some of my issues. After all, I am a Christian under the perfect care of my Heavenly Father, the Almighty God, the Creator of all that was, is, and forever shall be … the great “I Am.” I trust in Him as my powerful protector and healer. What do I have to fear? Nothing is too hard for God. But after repeatedly discussing the situation with several of my physicians they convinced me that anxiety and fear are commonly involved in situations like mine. They recommended lowering my stress level, increased rest and some additional medications … one of which I now regularly take and one which I don’t take because of the additional side-effects that it caused. Sound familiar? My wife and I once worked through similar issues with one of my parents. It was a tough situation. I recall how fearful that parent was at times and how difficult it was to control the fears. Medicine helped sometimes, but not always.
So, for the first time in my life I am dealing with long-lasting anxiety … anxiety that in and of itself can cause serious physical, emotional and social problems. Fortunately, I serve an on-time, all-powerful God and am bound for an eternity in Heaven with Him because I have accepted His son Jesus as my Savior and Lord. God has provided direction for me in His Word, The Bible, on how to handle all of my life needs including anxiety. God is also using others to help me deal with this anxiety such as my wife, my son and my Christian friends. In addition, several months ago I was fortunate enough to view a sermon entitled Victory Over Anxiety presented by Dr. Charles Stanley, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries. That sermon and my diligent search of the scriptures have put me on a path to recovery using God’s Solution for Anxiety. While this is still a work in progress, I wanted to share it with others as it is a sure method for His healing.
Scripture: (all Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted)
1 Peter 5:6-7 – 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Philippians 4:4-7 – 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Psalm 121:5-8 – 5 The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Matthew 26:37-39 – 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Hebrews 11:1,6 – 1 And now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Matthew 6:25-34 – 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Psalms 139:16 – Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Let’s start by settling on a definition of anxiety as it relates to my situation and this article:
“Anxiety is a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill … an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked 1 by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), 2 by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and 3 by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield: Merriam, 1981, p. 51).
This definition describes my situation perfectly with a slight modification. For the Christian, there is an element that is missing from this definition. I would modify the third point as follows:
… and 3 by self-doubt and lack of trust (faith) in God’s power to cope with it.
In his sermon Victory Over Anxiety, Dr. Stanley said that overcoming anxiety is a “faith battle.” I identify with that statement. In studying this statement I was led to Hebrews 11:1,6 where we are told that “… faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Thus I conclude that God is not pleased with us when we hold on to our anxiety and worry.
Dr. Stanley also provided additional insight into the definition of anxiety from a Biblical perspective:
“In the New Testament, the word anxiety means to be distracted or pulled apart. This is the opposite of peace, which means, to be bound together. It can also be defined as dread, apprehension, and uncertainty and can be caused by past events, present situations, or future possibilities. Sometimes, anxiety is a fear of not being in control. Situations over which we have no control make us feel vulnerable and cause us to worry.”
Leaving God out of any healing process for the Christian is a huge mistake. God cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7). Trying to cope with anxiety by self-will is a huge mistake. How then does the Christian avoid such mistakes? The Bible promises that God will provide His peace when we humble ourselves. As Dr. Stanley related, God gave us emotions, including anxiety, for good reasons. Anxiety allows us to recognize risks in advance and potentially avoid those risks. For example, if a grizzly bear was close by, we most certainly would be fearful. That’s good. If we hold on to the fear long afterward, that may be bad, especially if that fear lingers and keeps us from our normal activities. When our firstborn comes into the world we have a flood of overwhelming joy. That’s good. When we are ill and we worry about our illness without doing anything about it, that’s bad. When we hold on to our anxiety unnecessarily, that’s bad.
Philippians 4:6-7 provides a formula for dealing with anxiety: “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Being a mathematician by training, I like things to be well-defined. Formulas do that for me. So, the formula can be stated as follows:
God’s Solution for Anxiety
If you have trusted God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as your Savior and Lord, then
X = a + b + c + d, where X is God’s Solution for Anxiety, and
- a = Do not be fret about or fear your anxiety
- b = Take your anxiety to God in prayer with a spirit of thanksgiving
- c = Turn over your anxiety to God and let Him handle it
- d = Receive the peace of God into your heart and mind to replace your anxiety.
We are to make our anxiety a matter of prayer recognizing that God has the power to deal with the root cause and relieve it on our behalf. We should make our prayers with an attitude of thanksgiving. The promise is that God will give us peace … a peace that passes our human understanding. God will guard our innermost being (our hearts and minds) in the same way that he guards our souls. That is of great comfort to me personally!
Notice there is a prerequisite required for this formula to work for you (Matthew 6:33). First and foremost, you must a born again Christian. That’s the only way it will work. There are several links in this article that will aid you in turning your life over to the Lord. For long-time Christians, why would we ever doubt that God would withdraw his upholding power from us after sustaining us through so many previous trials?
Christian, Almighty God accepts full responsibility for you and your welfare (Psalm 121:5-8). God knew you even before you were born. He already knows your outcome in this life and has written it in His book (Psalms 139:16).
Even Jesus Himself suffered from anxiety. In Matthew 26:37-39 Jesus was facing His final hours before He was crucified on the cross. He took Peter, James and John aside from the other disciples and told them that He was “sorrowful and troubled … to the point of death.” He left them there to “… keep watch with Me” and went ” … a little farther” away from them into the garden. In agony He prayed “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” After that prayer, I believe that God’s peace came over Jesus as never before and He was content to do whatever His Father required, knowing fully that ALL of His anxiety had been assumed by Almighty God.
So God’s Solution for Anxiety is not really that hard to apply to the Christian’s life. It is a choice, a choice that we should make. Given that, here’s a question I’ve asked myself: Why did it take me so long to turn over my anxiety to Him? I already knew these principles and that they worked. Why didn’t I choose to apply them earlier in my recovery? Perhaps it was because “I” wasn’t ready to turn my anxiety over to God. Clearly I had to get to the point where I quit trusting so much in doctors, medical procedures and devices and choose to put my trust fully in God to take my anxiety from me. I can report that I am still learning more about Him every day in my faith battle with my heart condition. I pray that I may reach the point that Jesus did when He prayed “… Yet not as I will, but as You will.“