I felt like I was having a heart attack. As we left my in-laws to make the five-hour trip back home, I could feel the pressure mounting in my chest. Without knowing the exact details, I knew I was headed back into an incredibly difficult situation, one David might describe as a “day of adversity.” I was gripped by fear and a troubled heart. The panic attack of anxiety that I was experiencing throughout the drive home consumed my entire being.
Perhaps you’ve had a similar attack of anxiety as well. The trite responses sometimes given in those times of fearful worry are hardly remedies to steady us and give us a quiet heart. The encouragement to “just trust God more” becomes a curse more than a help. For David, the answer to calming his anxious heart isn’t in his need for more or better belief. The answer is found in reminding himself of the true nature of the God he believes in.
Knowing the nature and character of God is an essential remedy for our lives when we battle anxiety. The power of positive thinking won’t take away our anxiety, but will often bring us to deeper anxiety as we wonder if we have enough positivity. Yet being reminded of the solid qualities of God’s character brings a calm in the midst of our greatest tempests. David shows us how to practice this as he reminds himself:
The LORD is his light—even when the fear closes in like darkness around him.
The LORD is his salvation—rescuer from enemies both real and felt.
The LORD is his stronghold—the only place of security that cannot be invaded.
David looked to God to be the one to battle his enemies, to push back the attacks against him, and to vindicate him against every slanderous word and deed. He knew only God could be his peace.
This calm exists for us today as well. Jesus is the one who is the light of life, who was cast down into darkness through His crucifixion and sacrificial death on our behalf. Jesus is the one who was abandoned to His enemies in order to save us from the last enemy, death. Jesus is the one who is our stronghold—no one who comes to Him will ever be cast out.
Knowing Christ and remembering all He’s done for us gives us a solid, practical step to take in the face of our anxieties. We can “cast all [our] cares on him, because he cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7). While we may be filled with anxiety and a troubled heart, we can pray Psalm 27 knowing that, because of Christ Jesus, the LORD cares for [us]” (v.10).
Written by Jeremy Writebol