I took my anguish to the Lord, and he answered me by setting me free. ~Psalm 118.5 NIV
Anguish is defined as ‘severe mental or physical pain or suffering.’ As a verb it is described as being ‘extremely distressed about something.’
About five years ago, I took a job that I was so unqualified for. It would require me to stretch out of my comfort zone more than I ever had in thirty years in the corporate world. That first year was so hard.
Obedience [to God] doesn’t take us away from our fear. It takes us right through it. @Grace_and_Such
My physical body was suffering, my moods were suffering, my emotions were aching, held heavy and close to the surface.
Anguish consumed me.
I was sore afraid. Sorely, painfully.
I know that many of you have shared in this kind of experience, or may even be caught in its clutches right now. I know what you are feeling, what you are trying to accomplish with every breath of your prayers. I know. I’ve been there.
Then one night, after a year of this ‘extreme distress’, in a hotel far from home on a business trip that I flailed my way through, I got on my knees and said these words: ‘Lord, help me to fail at this so I can get some relief. I just can’t do this anymore.’
I stopped praying for Him to fix things, to fix me so I could succeed. I stopped asking Him to help me be more confident, more competent. I stopped asking Him for things that were not the real problem.
The truth was that I was terrified to fail. My whole career had been spent managing my image, manipulating career paths to keep me on the path, not always to success, but always to at least a non-failure that I could take personal pride in.
When I finally took the real issue, THAT real anguish, to Him, ‘he answered me by setting me free.’
The next day, I talked it through with my manager. We worked on a plan that enabled me to work it all out and I took a hit on my bonus $$s that year. I had finally failed. And I was so relieved.
I learned a valuable lesson: the situation is not the fear. The issue is not the fear. The fear is in us and He came to set us free from the FEAR in us, not necessarily the situation.
I went through the ensuing months, as my confidence returned, with a joy that I had rarely experienced before. I was rejoicing even as I was paying the consequences. I was joyful in spite of what the world saw as failure.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~John 14.10-11
Obedience doesn’t take us away from our fear. It doesn’t. It takes us right through it. Because we obey, take His hand, and walk through it with Him, we become free to rejoice.
In God’s eyes I had won. That night in the hotel room on my knees, I had won. I won because I trusted Him, finally, with a fear that had ruled my life for decades. I won because He took it and I allowed HIm to teach me with it. I won because we crashed right through what I was most scared of.
I took my anguish to God. He heard me. He answered me. He set me free.
And He will set you free, too.