His heart was racing, beating like a rabbit running for its very life. His mind was like a browser with too many tabs open, and he couldn’t seem to focus on anything. He knew he was overwhelmed, and the thought of doing one more thing was literally terrifying. How had it come to this? Wasn’t this stage of his life supposed to be the best yet? He was beginning to think life was full of lies and competing messages, each louder than the one before. He felt incredibly alone and sad. The only option seemed like sleep, or at the very least, Netflix or YouTube—anything to escape his own head for a while.
Students, young adults, middle-aged people, and the elderly are experiencing many of the feelings listed above. Many people report feeling isolated and alone, unable to measure up to the rest of the society that they see in Instagram stories, on Snapchat, or on Facebook. So many people in our communities feel a longing today, and digital interactions do not fill the need.
Prevalence of Fear
The US Census Bureau reports that in 2017, more than eighteen million students were enrolled in college in the United States. According to figures compiled by Statista, nearly three out of four of these students have experienced a sense of “overwhelming anxiety” at some time, and just under 30 percent report having felt overwhelming anxiety in the previous two weeks.
While the above statistic focuses on college students, the feelings of anxiety and fear are prevalent in people of all ages. Perhaps you have experienced or are experiencing these feelings. I know that at times I have felt them. Sometimes, it can feel crippling and larger than anything else. What does God have to say about this, and how can our faith in Jesus as our Savior rewrite our lives, relationships, and identities?
God’s Word for You
Many verses show us God’s character and attributes, but for this piece, let’s look at three:
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37)
- And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:28–31)
- I have said these things to you that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
These verses illustrate an image of God that is powerful and loving, completely able to meet any need that we experience. Notice that God isn’t surprised that we are experiencing anxiety. He is not upset with us for being fearful or incapacitated by these huge feelings. He does not seek to sweep any of it under the rug. Instead, God faces the fears and anxiety head on, choosing to display His love and His ability to take care of all of our needs by sending us the answer that will still all questions and fear—His Son, Jesus. This same God who knows even the number of hairs on your head loves you beyond your wildest dreams! He has overcome the worst fears and anxiety you are facing right now. He has carried all of the craziness (tribulation, danger, hunger, nakedness, persecution, sword) and every need we experience to the cross. His perfect sacrifice on your behalf and mine has enabled a relationship with God that we could not have achieved on our own. God Himself has seen to every part of every need we have, and He calls you and me His beloved.
Beloved, you will have moments when you are anxious and afraid. This doesn’t mean you aren’t trusting God enough (none of us trust God enough!!) or aren’t a Christian. Remember, Beloved, you are His child, and He does all of the work needed to save you and have a relationship with you! When you feel like there is no one you can turn to, please remember that you are a child of the Almighty! You have a faith that overwhelms your fear. You are not alone; you are loved and precious!
Draw close to the Lord and believe in His ability.