I couldn’t sleep. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I shook like I drank a week’s worth of coffee in one sitting. My mind hopped around from my problem to possible solutions, back to the problem, to other possible solutions, to how this was all going to end in the worst possible scenario. Or scenarios. I mean, more than one really bad thing can happen at the same time.
I was so anxious. So worried. So fearful. It was hard to breathe. My stomach churned. I was, quite literally, worried sick.
In the midst of it, I tried to pray.
I tried to recall Bible verses to still my heart and my mind. But I just felt so stuck. Verses that have been committed to memory for years weren’t getting through. It was almost as if the wires were cut. I knew He promised to always be with me. So why did we feel disconnected?
And then a thought popped into my brain that was completely unnerving for someone who was already past her last nerve. You are a fraud. You talk like you believe in Jesus and trust in God. You have all of this “Biblical knowledge.” You write it all over your blog and proclaim it to the world on the Internet. You discuss it over coffee with friends. You lead a Bible study. You preach it to kids on Wednesday nights. You stand up in front of crowds and sing about it. But when you need His peace the most, you don’t have it. You are a mess. What are you getting out of this so-called “faith”? What is the point if it’s not helpful when you need it the most? You are a fraud and your faith isn’t real.
A very quiet whisper said, “Shannon, you know that’s a lie.” But I didn’t know how to fight back. In the midst of my panic attack, I didn’t know how to overcome it.
I must have eventually fallen asleep, though it didn’t feel like it. But when I woke up, I knew. I knew it was my anxiety wreaking havoc again. I knew Satan took advantage of my weakened state to heap harmful lies on top of already overwhelming fear. I knew I needed to ask for help. Again. And I knew I needed to go back on my anxiety meds. Again.
While I was discouraged to have to admit I needed help, I somehow knew it was OK to ask for it. I knew God was going to get me through it. And I knew my faith is real and true no matter how I feel.
How do I know? Because my feelings do not always tell the truth. They are fickle and frail. But God is unchanging. Only His Word is truth.
No matter how my faith ebbs and flows, He is constant.
I am a human being living in a broken world. I am weak. I stumble. I fall. I struggle. My body is susceptible to illness, and my brain is a part of my body. God did not intend for us to struggle with any kind of illness. He created a perfect world that was ruined by the fall.
Now, some of us have to fight infections, viruses, and autoimmune diseases, betrayed by our own immune systems. Some of us get cancer, betrayed by our own cells. And some of us struggle mentally, betrayed by our own brains. Until Jesus makes us whole someday, of course.
But I do not lose heart because even in the midst of my weakness, I know God is working in me and through me for His glory. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 says, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
My MacArthur Study Bible has an explanation that says, “By using frail and expendable people, God makes it clear that salvation is the result of His power and not any power His messengers could generate . . . The messenger’s weakness is not fatal to what he does; it is essential.”
And so, through His strength and not my own, I get up after I fall down.
I start over after I fail. I try again. I ask for help when I need it. I use all the tools God has given me to help me heal and grow. Prayer, His Word, a counselor, medication, the support of friends and family.
I keep on reading the Word. I continue to write about it. I refuse to quit teaching it. And I will sing about Him as long as I have breath and the ability to do so.
It is my humble prayer that God will take this scared little mess of a person and use me to point people straight to Jesus. Because He’s the only explanation for how I can accomplish anything.
That doesn’t make me a fraud. That makes Him faithful.
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