When I was little, I was often worried and nervous if unexpected things happened, things that were a bit different than normal. I could start to panic just at the thought of one day having to move out and no longer living with my parents.
When I was 11 years old and started junior high school, I felt that there were many big changes. Until then, I knew that I could quickly become nervous, but I had not experienced real anxiety, this feeling of worry and fear about what is going to happen.
The battle against anxiety*
When I got home from my first day at school, everything went well. But that night I slept restlessly; I woke with a pain in my stomach and I felt stressed. I knew the following day would be tough. I could not eat breakfast and felt a paralysing feeling taking hold of me. It was as though a wave was washing over me, and I knew it would be difficult to cope. For the next 10 days, I did not feel like eating at all. It was difficult to fall asleep at night, and in the mornings I would wake up with an upset stomach.
My parents prayed for me, comforted and supported me, and encouraged me to trust that God would help me. I was 11 years old, and with my simple childlike faith I prayed to God for help. My parents also took me to a doctor, and I got some medicine that helped me, so I became more calm. It went a bit better, but the problem was not completely solved.
Some years went by. I still easily felt a kind of inner stress, but I had no more serious anxiety attacks. But when I started senior high school, it seemed like the nightmare from four years earlier was back again. I was older, and I thought I had learned how to handle new situations. But suddenly this paralysing feeling was there again, and I couldn’t control my feelings. Why had God created me like this? I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. Why weren’t my brothers and sisters like this? It seemed so unfair to me. Why me?
Why had God created me like this?
I understand it better now: God wanted to say something to me. He wanted to speak to me through what I was going through. God speaks to some people in one way and to others in another way. What God wanted, was to help me learn to give myself to Him fully and put everything in His hands!
During those days when it was hard for me to start school again, my parents and some of the people closest to me continued to pray for me. I remember one morning when I was completely paralysed by anxiety. My dad took me to my grandparents and asked them to pray with me. My grandmother was a woman of prayer, and when I entered the classroom that morning, after she had prayed for me, I felt clearly that the heavy burden pressing down on me was suddenly taken away from me.
Those who have experienced real anxiety know that you cannot simply take control of an anxiety attack, and I realised that it was God who had answered our prayers by removing my anxiety that morning. “If God is for me, who can be against me?” I thought as I opened the door to the classroom.
But it was still difficult every morning that week. I continued to pray to God, and I knew clearly that He wanted something for me. Maybe there was something I had to give up… I thought that if I could get an even stronger faith, then He would set me free from these feelings.
An answer to prayer – by faith!
Early one morning, I realised I had to talk to my father, and I told him that I felt like I was in a dark tunnel. He said he was sure that God had a plan with these trials, and then he picked a random Bible verse. We received Hosea 6:1-3 (ERV): “Come, let’s go back to the Lord. He hurt us, but he will heal us. He wounded us, but he will put bandages on us. After two days he will bring us back to life. He will raise us up on the third day. Then we can live near him. Let’s learn about the Lord. Let’s try very hard to know him. We know he is coming, just as we know the dawn is coming. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the ground.”
Maybe this was the answer to my prayers! But what if this verse was just by chance? My whole human way of thinking came back with full force. But I decided to believe! I decided that I would trust God, and told Him that He had to raise me up, like this verse said.
And God kept His promise. Three days later, I could get up without feeling any fear or anxiety. I was absolutely calm and felt light and free! I knew this wasn’t a feeling that would last just for a moment. No, God had healed my wounds; He had “brought me back to life"!
This was a huge experience of faith for me. God reveals Himself to people in different ways, and He revealed Himself to me like this. It was through these trials, and very clearly through the Bible verse He sent me. God answered my prayers. Perhaps He will answer you in a completely different way, but He always answers when we pray to Him in the way He wants us to pray – with a pure and undivided heart and when we believe that we can be saved from sin through the trials He sends. Just think that everything we meet on our way can lead us to heaven, whether they are light or difficult circumstances. It’s all about using those circumstance that are given to me!
I can become a new creation!
Since that day, I have not felt this kind of anxiety anymore. I have become a young woman with a positive outlook on life. After God led me out of anxiety, He often led me through new circumstances where I knew that all I had to do was lay everything in His hands. My soul will still be uneasy when things go a bit wrong, or when I come into new situations, but I’m learning to let my soul come to rest and to hold firmly on to the hope I have received.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Hebrews 6:19. I have experienced that God is good and I know that He has a wonderful plan with all that He sends my way. Just think, all things work together for good to those who love God! (Romans 8:28.)
God weighs the trials He sends. He knows what I need to become a “new creation” (Galatians 6:15). I have to go through trials to get all the fruits of the Spirit. Not everyone is tested in the same way, but God knows exactly what I need so that I can get rid of sin in my human nature. He wants me to be a new creation, and that’s exactly what I long for, with my whole heart!
*Anxiety can be experienced in different ways for different people. This is a personal experience shared by the author. We would recommend people who have a medical condition to also seek medical help.