He Calms Your Anxious Sea

I light a candle and set the jar onto the wooden desk slowly, careful to avoid making a sound.

I spread a blanket on the floor. Pull my Bible from the shelf. Gently lower myself onto my knees. Breathe tender, relieved breaths—the kind of release you feel after heaving cries.

I sit in silence.

But every movement pierces my ears with an acute shrillness. Even my hand moving across the notebook page as I write seems to scream in an echo chamber.

The buzzing phone makes my stomach lurch. I want to throw it across the room.

Every sound or task or interaction feels abrasive and scary and entirely overwhelming.

I close my eyes and breathe. I breathe and I pray and I ask God to set me free from anxiety again. The anxiety that had me curled in a limp fetal position on the hallway floor just minutes ago . . . where giant tears streamed down my whole face and onto my hoodie and the carpet, where I had to force my body to take in oxygen between convulsions.

I had been reacting strangely and intensely to the most normal emails and daily tasks. Daily routines that nearly strangled me.

I panicked. Every ping and message felt like an attack—an atomic bombing of my mind and heart. Run and hide. I can’t do this. The noise, the requests, the deadlines.

Everything was screaming, screeching. So I crumbled. Crumbled and cried and gasped and shook and prayed. Then I lay silent and let the sudden stillness cradle me like a blanket. Jesus pulls me out of the irrational spiral and begins to calm my racing heart.

Make my soul this quiet, Jesus.

I get up slowly.

I turn off anything that dings or buzzes and silently open my Bible to Psalm 28.

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy (v. 6).

He hears.

The God who set this world in motion, the One who holds oceans in cupped hands also opens His ears (Isa. 40:12) . . . and listens to you. He’s the kindest Listener who holds buckets of compassion to be poured on us (Ps. 103:13).

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him (Isa. 30:18).

And He’s ready to hear the hard stuff.

The sound of our pleas.

Pain. Pleading. Sobbing. Guttural aching. Desperation. The words we can barely groan between gasps for air.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Ps. 56:8).

Jesus, is all I can whisper, knowing without a single doubt that my weak plea is heard.

Knowing that He sees all the noise in my soul—all the loud worries and not-good-enough lies and hopeless scenarios that are actually just faithless “what ifs.”

He understands my unmet longings that twist my gut into knots as I try to reconcile disappointment and hang onto a steadfast hope in His goodness.

He watches me add more weight to my heavy load—weights that aren’t mine to bear, because He’s told me to hand them over to Him.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

He watches my jaw clench and my back muscles tighten and my heartbeat increase as I labor to handle emotions and circumstances and burdens alone.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

He is aware when I’ve allowed my anxiety to call the shots, when it’s triggered past rationality and the panic attack sequence begins.

But He invites me to see and believe that He is my strength and my shield. Because of who He is, I can hurl every ounce of my trust upon Him. With total abandon. And my heart will be helped.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Ps. 28:7).

My heart needs help.

That’s what I know when the anxiety threatens to hold me captive in its strangling chains.

I need help, I admit as a sign of surrender.

And He gives it. He steps in and holds His shield in front of the deluge.

He heard my cries. And so He wraps me up with the gift of silence. A sweet stillness that invites me to rest in His nearness.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isa. 26:3).

My heart was loud and drowning and yelping and going rogue. He calmed its raging waters. Peace be still, my heart hears. (See Mark 4:35–41.)

It doesn’t mean everything is fixed. Task lists haven’t been erased; more emails have arrived to my inbox; texts wait to be answered; problems didn’t disappear.

But I quietly give thanks—because no matter how desperate and ugly and scared are my pleas, He will hear. He will help. He will silence the raging sea.

• • • • •

Photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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