“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Heart racing, knees shaking, butterflies the size of pterodactyls in my stomach…this is what anxiety does to me. It’s not a good feeling. When my life veers from routine, I am more prone to become anxious. I start to feel like my life is out of control. Not that it ever really is under my control but I like the feeling of normalcy that comes with routine. My Heavenly Father is well aware of this security blanket of mine. And like any good father who wants to see His daughter grow, He brings about (and walks me through) unexpected changes.
Last week I was out of town with my family for four days, then when I returned I was busy from sun-up to sun-down the next two days so I started to feel chaos growing in my soul and feeling the effects of it in my body. At one point, I found myself sitting in the emergency room waiting area trying to remain calm for a friend who was being seen by the doctors (yes, it was that kind of week) so I was reading the Confession letter of St Patrick (it was the only thing I had with me…). The passage below hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to reread it several times, especially that last sentence.
“He [God] has helped me to keep my faith through difficult times, so that I can fearlessly offer myself as a kind of living sacrifice to Christ. The Lord has rescued me from so many dangers that sometimes I just have to ask: ‘God, who am I? What is it you want me to do? You have worked beside me, helping me with your divine power, so that now I can praise and glorify your name constantly among nonbelievers—wherever I might be—in bad times and in good.’ Whatever happens to me, good or evil, I must accept it and give thanks to God. He has taught me to trust in Him without any limits.” – Patrick (quote from St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography by Philip Freeman, pg 185)
In my studies of Patrick, I have been deeply affected by his humility and his fearlessness. I want the kind of trust and dependency on God that produces that type of character. I write that with much fear and trepidation because God taught Patrick to trust Him like that through much suffering—kidnapping, death threats, attempts on his life, slavery, and more. But Patrick learned the lesson well and could only then humbly say that he trusted God “without any limits”.
I have not suffered as much as some, but I have suffered. And through those times of suffering I have learned to trust God more. He has faithfully shown Himself to be worthy of my limitless trust. But I am still afraid. I still get anxious. I still have chaos in my soul. I am forgetful of all that He has done for me. My anxious thoughts crowd out the promises that He has made and the truth that I know is real. But He has still not given up on me; He still speaks peace into my confusion.
So I (we) have to keep trying. Patrick did not write those beautiful faith-filled words at the beginning of his ministry. No, it was actually near the end. He had seen years of God’s faithfulness; He had grown to know God’s character from experience and knowledge of the Word. I am still growing. When I am anxious, the truth of who God is and the truth of who I am in Christ has not changed. When I spend time with Jesus to reorient my thoughts and remember these things, peace begins to flood my heart. His gentle voice and kindness to me makes everything bearable once again. I am weak and slow to learn. But thankfully, He is strong and a patient teacher. I’m so comforted that I belong to Him and am His beloved.
From the Heidelberg Catechism (1576 A.D.):
1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
 I Cor. 6:19, 20  Rom. 14:7-9.  I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14.  I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2.  John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8.  John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5.  Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18.  Rom. 8:28.  Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14.  Rom. 8:14.