People often write to me saying: “Russell, I wish I had the faith you had, because then I could beat this anxiety.”
I wish I had the faith that everyone thinks I have. You see, faith is not just believing–it’s how you hang on to the truth even when you don’t feel like believing.
Most of the time, people see faith as just believing. “If I can just believe in God more, then surely I can beat this thing.” Or maybe this sounds familiar, “I just don’t feel like God is helping me. If only I had more faith.”
When fear would strike, everything in me went into high gear. My mind would race. My heart would pound. My legs would go numb. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was ready to fight or run. This is a natural reaction to fear.
When that happened, I didn’t feel God’s presence, nor did I feel his peace. My “faith” was gone, and it seemed like God was not real. It was not easy to experience these terrifying thoughts. So how did I respond?
The Bible says that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). It also commands me to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and to not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
Even today when everything in me screams Run! or Fight!, I choose not to respond to those cries of fear. Rather, I choose to trust God–even if nothing makes sense. I choose to respond to God.
Faith is how you respond to God even when he doesn’t seem real, or things don’t seem to make sense. It’s how you respond to what the Bible says rather than what your feelings say.
Even if you don’t feel like your faith is strong, I encourage you to respond to God, rather than to fear. When those anxious thoughts come crashing in, don’t lean on your own understanding. Instead, trust God. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Prayer: Father, help me to understand true faith. Show me how to trust you in the darkness, when my mind can’t comprehend all that is happening to me. Show me how to reach up and grab hold of your hand as you guide me through this valley of fear and anxiety.