The weight on my chest continued to grow despite my efforts to slow my thoughts and calm my breathing.
My ability to focus was quickly slipping into chaos as the sense of uneasiness that had pestered me all day spiraled into a crippling anxiety attack.
As I laid there on my living room floor, I remember convincing myself that I had no idea why this was happening to me or why I was so overcome by fear and panic.
In hindsight though, I think I knew exactly what was happening.
After months of living in sinful idolatry, pride, and selfishness, I had taken my eyes off of Jesus Christ and loved others more than Him.
That morning during my Bible study I realized it was time to let go. The Lord was removing something from my life that I held dear.
It became clear that I valued that gift far more than the Giver. I had quickly presumed ownership of it and held onto it with everything I had.
It’s easy to hold things we care about with a tight grip, isn’t it?
Though it took me months to finally see, I realized that the issue behind this anxiety attack was not the external circumstances that I could’ve, would’ve, or should’ve avoided. No, this was a deep lack of trust in the sufficiency, fulfillment, and infinite love and wisdom of God Almighty.
Embracing Grace in the Midst of Anxiety
Drowning in a sea of sorrow
It was the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14 that helped me through this particular season of life. I often thought about how exhilarating it must have been for Peter to step out of his boat and walk on water.
Yet I could also imagine the crippling fear, the tightening of his chest, the confused and panicked thoughts that must have overwhelmed him as the sea closed in around him. I was in that same boat. One minute stepping out in faith, the next drowning in fears.
I can vividly imagine the pain Peter must have felt as climbed back into the boat; trying to hold it together in front of his brothers, but too ashamed to look any of them in the eye, especially Jesus.
My heart hurt for Peter and I felt a deep, personal connection with this story that seemed to be portraying my current circumstances.
There is a complexity to this story that goes far beyond Peter’s (and my own) failure though and deep into the eternal restoration that he was able to experience by the grace of Jesus Christ. The ending of this story give us glorious hope for the same eternal restoration waiting for us at the end of our sorrowful seasons in life.
The hand of grace
Prior to stepping out of his boat, Peter knew nothing of the power and strength that could compel him and sustain him to walk on water. Being sustained by the divine power of the Lord and his very great and precious promises, Peter was able to participate in the divine nature, escaping the destruction of the waves and walking in glory (2 Peter 1:3-4).
There is such amazing beauty and glory displayed in this moment, but it stands in no comparison to the beauty of Jesus’ grace in response to Peter’s failure. As Peter drowned in his own frailty, the hand of Grace reached out and took hold, promising to never leave him nor forsake him. This is far more remarkable than any moment Peter spent walking on water.
That the divine would reach down into humanity and take hold of our scarlet-stained hands, pull us up out of our helpless state, and call us His own boggles the mind and leaves us stunned. Click To Tweet
And whether we recognize our pain as a means of mercy and grace or not, it is this same Hand of grace that reaches down in unfathomable mercy to pull us up out of our deepest sorrows and into the restoration of eternal healing.
Though Peter walked on water, he also did what we all tend to do.
He sank, he failed, he faltered, and he gave way to distress; listening to the desires and fears of the flesh instead of Jesus’ voice. He turned to the left and the right for security instead of locking eyes with the only One who could sustain him.
Throughout the four months following my anxiety attack, I battled depression and fear and would often wonder if the sorrow would ever end…..if the pain would ever go away. What I realize now and what we can all take away from Peter’s story is that though our present pain hurts, it is not entirely bad, because it leads to something of eternal value. And though painful seasons in life may be long, they are but only temporary in light of eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
And believe me when I say that our God does not dwell in the temporary. He works through the temporary, but He does not dwell in it. His desire for you and I extends past just temporary healing of the pain that we might be experiencing. He wants to give you and I everlasting restoration through the temporary sorrows that we face.
I am intimately familiar with the kind of pain that makes your chest tighten, your thoughts scramble, and your palms sweat.
I know the tears of not wanting to endure another family holiday still single; of not wanting to fail, not wanting to disappoint those you love, and of not wanting to say goodbye for the last time.
I understand and I am there.
Through Peter’s suffering and ours alike, Christ demonstrates the abundance of eternal comfort and healing by pointing to His ultimate act of restoration on the cross. For we know that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory of Christ Jesus that will one day be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
As we remember the eternal restoration and healing secured for us on the cross, we are given a hope that pushes us onward to confidently face the ‘light and momentary’ troubles of our each day (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Can I encourage you today?
Jesus wants to heal your heart sister, not just your present circumstances. Grab hold of Him and trust that His grace is powerful enough to pull you through when you’re sinking; drawing you up into the hope of eternal healing and restoration.
About the Author
Kristin Remm is a jeans and t-shirt wearing, passionate, jump-in-with-both-feet, entirely flawed but wholly loved by God kind of girl who is learning to embrace grace over perfection. Residing in Kearney, NE, Kristin is the grant writer and data analyst for a local nonprofit agency. Outside of her work, Kristin enjoys spending hours at the coffee shop reading and writing, competing on the community church softball league, and traveling with her family and friends. Her passion for writing led her to create her blog, Walk on Water, where she shares her story of how God continues to invite her ‘to be eternally focused on Him rather than presently preoccupied by this world.’