Jul 4, 2013
A while back God healed a woman in our church from anxiety and panic attacks. I thought her story would be encouraging, and asked if she would be willing to share it with us. Here’s what she wrote —
For 9 years I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks – in constant terror of everything. I lived in fear, and when it got too great, I would have a panic attack — my heart rate skyrocketed, I broke out into a cold sweat, I felt like nothing was real, and that I was going to die.
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder and was put on medication. The medication helped, but I could only afford it sporadically over the next few years.
Due to a friend’s generosity I was able to see a counselor who taught me breathing techniques to use when a panic attack struck. This would help the attacks calm down, but they never went away.
But there were times when the frequency of the attacks slowed so I could have a somewhat normal life. The longest time of close to normal living happened while I was in Southern California – I had graduated from college, had a steady job, and had been married for a little over a year.
Moving To The Bay Area
At that time my husband had the opportunity to move back to our hometown in the Bay Area for work. I was excited to move home and be with family and friends, but I was not prepared for what this move did to my anxiety. After moving, I felt like I was spiraling back into a deep pit of anxiety and despair, and I was terrified of slipping back into daily anxiety attacks.
The hardest thing for me to deal with was social situations – they were one of my biggest triggers, and I would rarely go into a social situation voluntarily. I did, however, feel that church was important.
So when my husband and I relocated, we sought out churches, and found Mercy Hill. We started going to a Wednesday night home group lead by Steve Fuller, the pastor of the church.
One thing I really liked about the home group was its emphasis on prayer. One night I mentioned my anxiety attacks, and Steve asked if the group could pray for me right then. Not wanting to sound rude, I agreed, despite not wanting to be the center of attention, especially in relation to my anxiety issues. The group laid hands on me and prayed for my healing and that I would know I was not alone in my struggles.
Not Expecting Healing
I had received prayer for this issue before, and I knew God could heal people, but I was not expecting healing. While they were praying, a Bible story kept running through my mind of a man who brought his son to Jesus and asked if Jesus was able to do anything for him. Mark 9:22-24 records the conversation like this:
“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’” 23 “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I did not believe I was about to be healed from an almost decade long disorder, but I did not want any unbelief on my part to stop God working, so I prayed that God would do his will despite anything I was thinking or feeling.
I also prayed that he would change the way that I thought about him, no matter the outcome, so that my first thought when faced with the idea of his great power was not skepticism, as it so often had been in the past.
Later that night I was talking to my husband and noticed that I felt different. It was easier for me to breathe; I felt like a weight on my chest had just been removed and I was breathing normally for the first time in years.
Over the next few days I noticed drastic changes in my thinking and my body’s response to things – no stream of constant worry, no racing heart, no breaking out in cold sweats, no panic attacks. And I no longer had an incessant voice of worry and panic running through my head that I could not control.
It has been a year and a half since God healed me, and I have not had any reoccurring instances of anxiety or panic attacks. This is nothing like the medication that I had taken years ago, which only dulled my emotions and left me indifferent. This is true freedom, true healing.
Looking back on the time that I had spent as a prisoner to my own brain, I am in awe of how often God met me in that place of torture. He brought me through countless panic attacks when I thought I was going to die, through the dangers of skyrocketing heart rates, and through everyday life when the anxiety made even the smallest tasks seem impossible. I graduated from a university with good grades, got married, and maintained a steady job. I would not have been able to do any of these things if God had not been with me for every single step that I took during those nine years.
But he did more than that; he allowed me to be aware of his presence, and to see his true character despite what I thought about him at times. He showed me how to pour my distress out to him, and how to trust him for my next breath, because there were times when I thought I would not be able to take another one.
And then, on top off all of that, he decided to heal me completely. I cannot say I would want to endure another nine years of panic and fear – but to be able to know God and his character as I did during that time, and then to see him show up like he did when he healed me, I would go through it all again. A year and a half later I still boggle at the idea that God calmed my brain and took away my anxiety; I truly do not have the words to explain the depth of my amazement at what he did for me.
I had heard promises like Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”) and Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”). But I did not understand how these promises related to me. At the best of times these promises made me sad, because I thought my disorder would preclude me from his plans; at the worst of times they made me angry, because I felt I did not do anything to deserve what I was going through.
I now see these promises in a new light; all of the anxiety and panic attacks were God’s will for me. I did not have to get rid of those issues and then find God’s will, because the issues are what he had planned for me from the day of my conception.
This was a bitter pill for me to swallow at first, but now I can see that it was better to go through the pain and fear than not go through it at all. I do not serve a God who makes mistakes, and my anxiety was not a mistake, just a way that God had chosen to do his will in my life.
It’s now a year and a half after the end of the anxiety, and I do not know what God has in store for me next. For the first time in a long time I am able to look towards the future and believe that God is in control and does have a plan for my life. Not everything is perfect – sometimes I find myself living with a mindset of worry, but I have realized that this worry is out of habit, and it is not something that can control me unless I allow it. This is a drastic change from when everything was completely out of control, and God is again teaching me how to rely on him when I am fearful and worried.
Even after seeing God’s power and goodness firsthand, I still fight him for control of the reins at times, and too often I fall into the trap of believing I am the one who needs to make things happen instead of turning to God first. But time and again God turns my heart back to him, and reminds me of what he already spent nine years teaching me: he is good, he is in control, he has a plan, and he does not make mistakes.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- From My Wife: “How God Freed Me Through A Spiritual Gift“
- How Spurgeon Saw His Trials And Suffering
- What Luther Did When He Was Desperate
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