Christian Living

Spiritual Life

When Anxiety Is Great

Intermittent sobs echoed in the hospital waiting room. Silent prayers were interrupted by ringtones from calls and texts offering encouragement or requesting an update. Within an hour, the somber faces of three physicians revealed the news before they spoke the words that no one wants to hear, “We did all we could.” My daughter’s legs shook, and her husband caught her before she fell to the floor. Shock and anxiety erupted in all of us.

Once our family regained composure, we shared the news about my husband with anxious friends and relatives. Emails, texts, and social media posts multiplied. A friend sent a verse that stood out,

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

The death of a loved one brings anxiety and grief. If death comes unexpectedly, survivors are numb. We shed tears and can’t think straight. Unfamiliar and important decisions need to be made quickly, and we have questions with few answers. And the empty space once occupied by a loved one, looms large. There is no fix or repair for a loss. We desperately need the consolation that my friend’s verse spoke of.

What consolation is needed and welcomed by a grieving family? Human touch, a hug, words expressing memories of how important that person was, and the comfort of prayer are meaningful and comforting. Yet God’s consolation moves to another dimension—assurance of His constant presence, generous grace for pain, and strength to face and process the unthinkable. 

Shock and grief leave us feeling lost and alone, but the words in Psalm 94:14 (NIV) remind us of needed truth in loss,

“... He will never forsake his inheritance.”

In irreversible bad news, we cling to His stable presence. God never leaves. When we are about to fall apart, the psalmist identifies with us in verse 18 (NIV),

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.”

That kind of consolation was real.

But my friend’s verse also spoke of joy. Joy? Where is joy in grief and loss? Is it possible? This kind of joy didn’t look like smiles, laughter, and happiness that evening in the waiting room, on the drive home, and in the days that followed.

The joy of consolation came in other forms. As we relived and retold the sudden scenario, I knew the certainty of God’s presence and love and hung onto His inexhaustible grace. I claimed His promise,

“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

His grace gave me strength I didn’t have, to wake up each morning and face the day.

If you are grieving, seek God’s consolation to fill your empty spaces with His presence and soothe your hurt through the assurance of His unfailing love. He is aware of our tears and reaches out with tender mercies.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT).

In weeks ahead, when my cares, tears, and anxious thoughts multiplied and a new normal I didn’t choose set in, God’s consolation and joy as the stable rock of my refuge, excelled.

“But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 94:22 NIV)

He keeps His promises.

Copyright © July 2020 Marilyn Nutter, used with permission.

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