My life has been turned upside down lately and seems to be a complete mess…
Work seems to be uber-stressful (which is odd for me).
I have a roommate for the first time in 12 years.
My health has been sub-par (but not serious).
And the little annoyances and problems of every day life that normally don’t phase me seem to be overwhelming.
These recent events brought a post to mind that I wrote for the Valleydale Women’s Ministry blog last year. If you’re stressed out, or anxious, or have ever been in the past, I hope you keep reading. I hope it brightens your day as you realize that He can use your stressed out, anxious self for good and for the glory of His name.
I had a delightful opportunity to teach Breaking Free From Fear. Ironically, I had to take a couple of sessions off because I was struggling with anxiety.
(God has the most wonderful sense of humor. Don’t you think?)
I’m still not sure what was going on, but for a few weeks I felt like I was being tortured from the inside out. Physically, I thought I was going to jump out of my skin.
I couldn’t sleep.
I couldn’t eat.
I couldn’t think.
I couldn’t focus.
I was exhausted.
I can’t articulate properly how much it pained me to struggle with fear while I was supposed to be teaching on that very topic. I mean…I knew all the church answers.
I tried to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I prayed for peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I recited every scripture I could possibly think of that had to do with fear.
But still my anxiety persisted and Satan had a field day. He tried to convince me that I had no business teaching. He tried to persuade me that people would think I was crazy. He told me my God wasn’t faithful and His Word was ineffective. All of these things compounded my anxiety.
Mercifully, my symptoms dissipated after I quit taking some medication, but the questions in my heart still haunted me. I felt like a failure. I beat myself up for letting my fear overcome my faith, and because of this, I was certain I had disappointed God and that He could never use me. In three words: I was crushed.
I took these hard feelings to God. Immediately, in my mind, I saw an image of Peter sinking. He was waist deep in rough seas with fright filling his face, and an arm reached out to save him.
It was the last lesson I taught before taking a break, and it was crystal clear in my mind.
Peter – perhaps sinking more in panic than in the waves – might not have found his faith that day, but what he did find was grace.
You see, Jesus didn’t give up on Peter because his faith wasn’t perfect. He didn’t walk away from him because of his fear (Matthew 14:25-31). He didn’t just save him.
He used him.
He used him as the rock on which to build His church (Matthew 16:18).
Sure. Peter’s story teaches us how to step out in faith and walk on water. It teaches us how to keep our eyes on Jesus instead of looking around at the raging storm. But it also teaches us that God doesn’t give up on us. He uses those whose faith might falter momentarily. He uses people willing to persevere when they think they’ve failed.
He used Peter.
He can use me.
And He can use you if you let Him.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13