I just read a book by a mega-church pastor named Lance Hahn, who suffers from anxiety disorder and panic attacks. It’s entitled How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out. I’m reviewing it for HarperCollins. I must say, I’m liking Hahn’s perspective: honest, gracious, realistic, and non-churchy. I think this would be a good read for anyone who suffers from anxiety or is in a close relationship with someone who does (probably most of us). It’s not great literature or a tremendously profound read, but it’s raw and honest. And I think the church has read enough garbage about anxiety to last a few generations. Yes, we must trust God. But anxiety is not a lack of faith. It’s a chemical reaction to a perceived threat. Hahn discusses medication, therapy, and re-adjusting your lifestyle to allow for and compensate for panic attacks. He gives helpful advice about how to minimize anxiety and live a fulfilling and productive life without ruining the lives of the people you love. This is a quick and helpful read for anyone desiring a better understanding of anxiety and fear. (FYI–I received this book for free because I review for Book Look Bloggers.)
Do you look inside yourself? Really look and listen? Your actions are speaking to you. Yes, they speak to others, but more importantly, they talk to you about who you are and why you feel the way you feel.
Embarrassment tells me I’m too full of myself.
Arrogance tells me I’m deluded.
Hurt tells me to reach out and mend the gap.
Anxiety tells me I’m bearing a weight not meant for me to carry.
Failure tells me I’m on the verge of growth.
Success tells me I’m blessed beyond measure.
What is your life trying to tell you?
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently in the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.”–James 1:24-25
Faith is a popular slogan now. You can buy a wooden faith sign just about anywhere. But what is faith, really?
I believe in God
I believe in the power of positive energy (think good thoughts!)
That’s faith, right? The hope and almost-persuasive feeling that everything will turn out alright in the end.
This optimistic approach might work on getting a date or a pay raise, but what about the big stuff? Disease, death, and heartache? Lemonade isn’t usually strong enough for those guys.
It’s no wonder we’re an anxiety-ridden, obsessive-compulsive, medically-saturated population. Turns out, unwavering faith is hard to generate.
The writer of Hebrews defines it like this: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Think about that oxymoron for a second.
Evidence must be seen, or else it isn’t evidence. The principle of evidence is foundational to our American understanding of freedom and fairness. Maybe that’s why faith is so hard for us. We expect reasonable and expedient justice. Habeus corpus. (Without a dead body, how can you prove a murder?) Perhaps we carry our “unalienable rights” into our spiritual understanding, too. When it comes to faith, I demand more than circumstantial evidence–more than a cliche about making lemonade. I want the whole story, from beginning to end. I need to know the verdict. I’m okay with a due process of faith, as long as the outcome is fair. And fair is something I can see and prove.
And yet, faith in its essence lacks visual proof. Somehow, faith entwines believable conclusions without supplying any tangible evidence to the conclusion. You have to hold on until the end without knowing what will happen before then.
Faith is the belief that I can’t comprehend or control the magnitude of a situation, so I will let someone more capable handle it. I won’t micro-manage. I won’t nag. I won’t freak out.
In fact, if I really have faith, I’ll pray, because prayer vitalizes faith. Prayer dares an omnipotent being to step up and take charge while I simultaneously back into the unknown. Prayer says I’m okay with the process because I know the decision isn’t mine to make, and I’m okay with the outcome because I lack the wisdom to manipulate a better one. Prayer commits to the long haul of an ordeal.
So if you find yourself praying, sending hopeful requests into the cosmos, stop to consider the evidence that Someone truly powerful must exist out there. He must care very deeply, or else why trouble himself with such a creation? And if that be true, then what else might be?
Maybe anything and everything is possible. A world of see-able evidence, when you turn around and look from the other direction.
1 Cor. 13:8-13 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.”