Updated: Feb 6, 2021
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 ESV)
Paul describes a life that had been -- both literally and figuratively -- storm-tossed on many occasions. His list includes a lot. It’s so much that it’s difficult to even establish a personal reference point with the totality of Paul’s suffering. Still, there is one thing that may connect, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Think about the context of Paul’s statement for a moment. He was dealing with Christian people, but anxiety was still present in the management of his relationships.
Have you ever experienced a storm of anxiety?
Perhaps, you often awake in the middle of the night, your heart fluttering with images from your day. Thoughts pass through your mind at the speed of light... You are just now realizing, something you said was most likely misunderstood. You forgot to send an imperative reply text to your boss. In all the hustle and bustle of your week, you completely forgot to pay the utility bill. Suddenly, you have an awareness of what your rival’s social media post really meant. Though you went to bed with it far from your mind, you’ve awakened with a deep concern for what the people around you think about you. You’re tossing and turning, wondering how you will manage your debt if the economy continues to trend downward. Something is troubling you and now your soul is disquieted.
I wonder again, have you ever been storm-tossed by Anxiety?
If you have been — or are now — I invite you to take hold of this Scriptural proclamation by faith, “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony…” (Isaiah 54:11 ESV)
The word antimony may not be familiar to you, but its definition is quite powerful. The term represents a natural resource, which has a chemical property within it. Manufacturers use this chemical in flame-retardants. This insight brings to light what God is saying to you. He wants you to know, you may feel afflicted and storm-tossed, but, “I will not let your ship burn. You will not go down in flames!”
Take hold of that promise by faith, and find the same comfort that David did when he finally confronted the storm of anxiety in his soul, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted (storm-tossed) within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalms 43:5 NKJV)
The most critical response to a storm of anxiety? Hope in God. Because when you choose this response, your ship will not go down in flames!