The other day I sat across from my doctor and listed the symptoms. Anxiety. Racing heart. Nausea. Shaking.
Before he responded with his diagnosis, I could already hear the words he was about to speak whisper into my ear. Panic attack. And sure enough, seconds later, he proceeded to confirm what I already knew. We talked about options; we talked about a solution and thankfully, underlying his words was the reaffirmation that I needed to hear: you’ll get through this.
The other night, as my mom sat across from me on my bed, and I recounted to her the conversation between my doctor and I, she frowned and put words to questions I too have wrestled with. “But I don’t get it,” she said. “How can you have panic attacks when you have the peace of God?”
And I sat, stumped by her question, because in all reality I just really don’t know.
But tonight, questions stir in my heart because I wonder.
Does the peace of God mean the absence of anxiety?
If there’s anything my life has taught me, it isn’t that Christ necessarily seeks to take away trials from us but rather He seems to want to walk through them with us.
And I just wonder, if even in the midst of a panic attack, His peace is found in the Hand that holds mine and gently whispers, “Breathe. You’ve got this. You’ll be okay.” And in doing so, those times of severe anxiety don’t reflect a lack of peace but rather peace that surpasses all human understanding. Instead those times reflect the great presence of Peace.
I’m reminded of the verse in Exodus, “The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” The battle was never averted but rather God promised to fight it for them. He was just as present in the midst of the battle as He would have been in its absence!
And I wonder if maybe, just maybe, His Presence and Peace are just as present in the midst of anxiety as they are in its absence.