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Pastor’s Pen February 3, 2016

“And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that God may exalt you in due time.Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.” I Peter 5:5-7

The first time my friend Jessie had a panic attack, I didn’t understand. She walked into a grocery story, and proceeded to fall apart. Her breathing became rapid and she clenched and released her fists. When I asked her a question, her voice responded in a high-pitched squeal, as if she were being chased by a wild beast, without hope of escape. I did not know it then, but later I learned that Jessie experienced panic attacks whenever she went to the grocery store. Who knew that apples and milk could be so scary?

For the 40 million American adults who suffer from it, or nearly 18% of the population, anxiety is no laughing matter. It’s humbling to experience an anxiety attack. When you feel anxious, you quickly feel out of control. Those who experience them describe heart arrhythmias, tension, aches and pains, irritability and difficulty focusing. An anxious person may hyperventilate, or want to avoid or run away from a situation in which they feel uneasy. They may experience a sense of apprehension or unexplainable dread.

It’s so interesting that a couple of millennia before modern medicine and mental health care, so many Bible verses recognize the debilitating consequences of anxiety. When we become anxious, we may take out our fears on others. Modern Psychologists teach breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and muscle relaxation to alleviate the symptoms. Long before the invention of cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective treatment for anxiety, various writers of scripture recognized the power of prayer to release us from our fear. When we feel anxious about things we can’t control, the most hopeful response we can make is to pray. Whatever it is that is making us feel cranky or anxious, we can give it to God. “Cast all your anxiety on God, for God cares for you.”

Prayer: God of all creation, close to us as breathing, steady our heart and hands and spirit. Help us to wholly trust you, knowing that there is no circumstance beyond the reach of your care. Assure us once again that though we cannot see the road ahead, you will guide us, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen

“Anxiety weighs down the human heart,

    but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

Pastor Verlee A. Copeland