Stress Scratched

Has your gut dropped about what’s ahead? Maybe you’ve lost a little sleep, too?

We dread potential situations. When the check engine light comes on, we’re sure the car is about to blow up. Or when the principal calls us into his office, we’re racking our brain to figure out what we did wrong. Right now, all of our check engine lights are blazing, and the principal is on all of our loudspeakers because of Coronavirus. Hopeless anxiety can cripple us and steal our inner peace.

I do not suggest we ignore the concerns and suggestions of our medical leaders. I am reminded of what Jesus said: “But if I do what my Father does, you should believe because of that, even if you don’t have faith in me. Then you will know for certain that the Father is one with me, and I am one with the Father” (John 10:38 CEV).

I have always been misinformed and believed this verse was about anyone but me. I wouldn’t allow myself to admit that struggles with faith require me to hold evidence of Jesus’ work in my life. Sometimes, I would rather act unswervingly and let anxiety fester deep within. Anxiety is the opposite of trust. A key to trust is knowing someone.

A practical way to experience God’s love is to look for His hand in our lives, taste His goodness, and choose not to forget. Maybe Jesus understood our forgetful faith…our fear/trust dance. Maybe that’s why He wants us to look at His track record when we doubt His ability. On those high anxiety days, our stories are not a bad place to start.

I remember a health struggle I once had. Well, not a struggle really, but a potential struggle with no straight-forward answers. Living in a third world country made things more complicated. I stressed. I felt the Lord say, “Trust Me. I am in control,” but I chose anxiety again and again, preferring the comfort of familiar thought patterns. A comfortable form of destruction.

During our kid’s program, I walked outside and scrolled on my phone, completely self-absorbed. A sharp tree limb scratched my temple, very close to my eye and just missing my cornea. An anxiety-producing situation since the nearest eye doctor is a flight away. I wore a red scratch from my right eye to my hairline.

Every time I started to worry, I touched that scratch. Sometimes the mark smarted a little when I felt myself going down the rabbit hole of habitual stress and familiar thought patterns. But God’s grace used pain to draw me out of myself.

If God can protect my eye, maybe He really is looking out for me as He says. Perhaps, I can trust Him with other things. If God protected our finances, marriage, and health in the past, perhaps He can do it again. If He has been my peace in a confusing crisis in the past, He will do that again. If He has been faithful up to this point, why would He stop now?

Maybe our faith in God’s goodness is not as steadfast as we want to believe. That is why He sends us gentle reminders called testimonies. We keep them handy to build our faith when anxiety rises and the world crashes down.

Since I write, my testimonies stay in the back pocket of my mind. I can stand on truth instead of emotion when I’m having a potential situation or a valid crisis. I want to choose trust over anxiety because I remember Jesus’ faithful track record.

Today, in the midst of the mess we call life, we can know God’s goodness first hand and choose trust as we remember His faithfulness time and time again.

Michelle Heed

Michelle and her husband David serve as children’s missionaries in Tanzania, Africa. She enjoys eating fresh mangoes and spending time with their daughter. Michelle is originally a nurse from New York State.

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