Jesus is the Opposite of a Panic Attack
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
One of the most acute aspects of anxiety is that it feels like you're going to die. Not in some dramatic, hyperbolic way. No. It can literally feel like you're going to die. Your heart pounds uncontrollably and your body tenses up like someone is about to push you out of an airplane--without a parachute.
For me, my mind becomes flooded with thoughts of all the things I need to do and all the things I haven’t done. I’ve noticed that anxiety never recalls the positive, beautiful things that have happened. No, just the stuff that causes me to worry, self-doubt, and despair.
Jesus is the opposite of a panic attack. He doesn’t expect us to do everything at once. He is neither accusatory nor shaming. And, much to my relief, He teaches that one day is enough for any of us. In chapter six of the book of Matthew, Jesus talks directly about anxiety. He reminds us that He has provided and will provide for us. But His provision is daily. His blessings can only be lived one day at a time. We cannot stash away the presence of God the way we go to Costco to buy toilet paper. We can only experience Him in the present moment. But the present moment is all we need.
Of course, we can look back and celebrate His provision over the course of our lives. And we can look forward with hope because we know that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But today is what we’ve been given.
When the Israelites were in the desert, the Lord gave them manna to eat every single day. In the middle of nowhere and without a Panda Express in sight, God gave them what they needed. He told them that with the exception of the Sabbath, they were not to store up their food for later. They were to take what was given each day and trust that He would provide for tomorrow when it arrived.
Jesus, when asked how to pray, instructed us to ask God to “give this day, our daily bread”. Not a lifetime of bread. Just enough for today.
And in Matthew 6:34, he says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (MSG)
When anxiety hits, it is demanding that we handle all the trouble of our past, present, and future at once. It does everything it can to keep us running and exhausted, drowning in worry, fear, and regret.
But Jesus does not ask us to carry the weight of what has happened in the past. Nor do we need to dwell on future trouble that may or may not happen. He invites us to live today, in this present moment of grace.
Some days will be filled with trouble. I love that Jesus never shies away from that. But it will take place one moment at a time.
Anxiety might try to throw your thoughts into next week, last year, or into the next decade. But Jesus will not do that. He is standing here, right now, in this day. He is providing what you need as you need it. If this moment is filled with pain, then in this moment, He is offering His peace. If this day is busy and you are feeling overwhelmed by all it holds, you can just take the next breath. And if this moment is joyous, then take it in. You will have other times of joy. This one is its own gift.
The faithful life is lived one breath at a time. It is too much for anyone to take on the past, present, and future all at once. Thankfully, we don’t have to. We can enjoy the daily bread we are given and rest assured the peace and provision of God will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.
OrderThe Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place HERE