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The Gift Anxiety Gave Me - Encouragement for Today - November 17, 2023

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Tessa AfsharNovember 17, 2023

The Gift Anxiety Gave Me
TESSA AFSHAR 

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“The Israelite army fled, but Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the LORD saved them by giving them a great victory.” 1 Chronicles 11:13b-14 (NLT)

Recently, a friend and I were catching up and exchanging updates about our schedules when she said something that surprised me: “Something is different about you. In spite of everything on your plate, I sense you have peace.”

She certainly wouldn’t have said that about me 20 years ago. Back then, I was going through a fierce internal battle. After an immobilizing season of burnout, the monster of anxiety had made itself at home under my skin, and nothing I did seemed to shake it.

Now, as I reminisce about our conversation, it dawns on me that the peace my friend noticed is the gift that anxiety has given my soul. While the enemy was pounding me with waves of fear, God was weaving threads of strength through the same pain.

A recent gift from my mother might help explain what I mean. Last year, when I went to visit her in England, she gave me a small rug — a Persian Bijar — that has been in my family for about 60 years. After surviving six decades, thousands of steps and three continents, the carpet is now a permanent fixture in my home, vibrant and plush under my feet.

The rug’s resilience comes from the fact that after every row of knots, Bijar carpets are given an additional weft — an extra row of thread. This weft must be pounded into the row beneath with something like a hammer, creating an incredibly strong weave. It’s a little counterintuitive, but the pounding gives the carpet its longevity.

In a way, God wants to turn us into His Bijars.

He wants to use the thrashings of our lives — the job loss, the cancer diagnosis, the death of a spouse, the betrayal of a friend, the unexplained depression — to weave a divine strength into our hearts.

Twenty years ago, that’s exactly what He did for me. God used the very hammer of anxiety to add a weft of strength into my inmost being. Standing eye to eye with my worst fears every day and, through God’s strength, making it through to the next day, I eventually realized that anxiety doesn’t have power over Christ.

On a deeper level, I recognized that regardless of what happened to me, Jesus would hold me. Defend me. Keep me. Love me. In life or death, in sickness or health, He would remain with me. And He would be enough.

This doesn’t mean my battle with anxiety is over or that I’m cured. Anxiety no longer has a chokehold on me; I am not its slave. But it hasn’t completely left, either. I still feel its sting from time to time.

Yet now the old fear no longer paralyzes me. It doesn’t dictate the course of my life. Even when I am anxious, I have access to the peace of Jesus. That access has paved the way to a new resilience — a strength that helps me bear the weight of life’s struggles.

The Bible tells of a battle that David fought against the Philistines. The odds must have been grim because his men ran away. They just fled the battlefield. But one man remained with David. In the face of impossible odds, Eleazar and David fought so bravely that God saved them with a great victory:

“The Israelite army fled, but Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the LORD saved them by giving them a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:13b-14).

We can be like David’s army, fleeing when the pressure is too much. Or we can allow God to pour a new strength into us by means of the very battle. The pounding can bring new strength.

Maybe right now, you are in a pounding season. Maybe you don’t feel strong enough to make it through another week. Maybe you are hammered by fear. By failure. By rejection. By insecurity.

Invite God to impart a divine gift through this pounding. Open your soul to His ministrations. Ask Jesus to grace you with added resilience.

Ask Him to make you His Bijar.

Lord, I invite You into the hard places of my life. Hold me. Defend me. Keep me. Love me. Give me Your resilience through this pain. Come and make me Your Bijar. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

OUR FAVORITE THINGS

For a story that will inspire you to become a Bijar, grab a copy of Tessa Afshar’s adventurous biblical fiction book, The Peasant King.

ENGAGE

Please visit Tessa at tessaafshar.com.

FOR DEEPER STUDY

Revelation 13:10b, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (ESV).

Today, what is one way you can trust Jesus to be enough and strengthen you through trials? Share with us in the comments.

© 2023 by Tessa Afshar. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106
www.Proverbs31.org

 

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