When fearful or anxious, we typically feel alone and think that God is silent, which is ironic given that he is just the opposite. In fact, Scripture—God’s communication to us—gushes with words and promises spoken to fearful and anxious people. Like a mother who keeps talking to her child during a long walk through a dark place in order to assure the child of her presence, so our Father says to us, “listen to my voice,” and he keeps talking and talking. Our dilemma is not his silence; it is how to pause on one or two of the hundreds of passages that he speaks to us.
Here are two places to pause. The first passage is for when you need direction immediately. The second will take prayer and practice.
When You Need Something Right Now
In emergencies, when fears and anxieties are loud and relentless, consider these words through the apostle Peter.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“Humble yourselves”—those are the arresting words. God is God and we submit to his sovereign control. We don’t try to figure out our circumstances; we simply trust him. Habakkuk captures it nicely: “the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (2:20). These words are potent enough to interrupt the anxious heart and quiet the proliferation of doomsday scenarios.
When You Want Hope and Long Term Direction
The next passage speaks to the partial blindness that accompanies most of our fears and anxieties. Fears see only in part. They see that we might lose something dear to us, such as our money, our health, or the health of someone we love. They see the potential for loss with microscopic acuity. But they don’t see God’s presence, they don’t see his faithfulness to his promises, they don’t fixate on unseen realities but are dominated by what is merely seen with the naked eye (2 Cor 4:18).
Elisha gives words to our prayer, “Lord, please open my eyes.”
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
This kind of seeing is called faith. It is nurtured over time through feeding on Scripture, praying and asking for prayer, learning from others whose sight is a bit more acute, and knowing Jesus. Rarely does faith-sight come all at once, as it did with Elisha’s servant, but that is just as well. With quick cures, we miss the benefit of day-to-day persistence and the wisdom that accrues from it.
These two passages have been personally helpful, and I recommend them, but there are scores of others that might fit you better. Our task is to listen for these words now, to hear them and meditate on them, to talk about them with our friends. Then, when fears and anxieties seize us—and they will—we hear our God talking, and talking.
An earlier version of this blog appeared on the Biblical Counseling Coalition on June 9, 2015.