Anxious Hearts

Do you ever experience anxiety? Anxiety is a biological reaction to external and internal pressures and threats. It is the body’s way of alerting you to hunker down or flee a threatening situation. According to the National Institution of Health, this is the definition of anxiety:

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary and can be overwhelming.

Our passage from Isaiah today speaks directly to those who have an anxious heart. It is a beautiful reminder that God is always with us in every situation, and we can count on him to come and save us:

Isaiah 35 (English Standard Version)

Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

The times we are living in right now are filled with anxiety. You can’t go through a day without experiencing some anxiety over the pandemic, driving in heavy traffic, the climate crisis, violence in our streets and across the world, worry over the economy and jobs, raising children, marriages falling apart…the list is endless.

A friend shared that after several life-challenging events, she is struggling so much with anxiety that she realizes she needs to find help. She said that this gave her a sense of shame and disappointment. I know that those feelings are real, but I countered that if she were experiencing symptoms of diabetes, she would see a specialist and possibly go on insulin. It is the same with anxiety…getting professional help puts no shame in that game. That is the smart move.

When anxious thoughts overwhelm you, close your eyes and imagine Isaiah’s vision of the waters breaking forth in the wilderness, streams flowing in the desert, and burning sand turning into a pool of cool water that brings life to the animals who drink there. Take a few deep breaths, pray and meditate, and go for a walk. And if anxiety is persistent and pervasive, a good therapist is in order, just as you would seek help for a heart condition. God can use ALL things for your good if you let him.

Behold, your God will come…he will come and save you.

The Burning Sand Shall Become a Pool by Amanda Williams

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