When I was 17 years old I had severe anxiety attacks. At the time I wouldn’t have called it anxiety but I think it’s the closest word that describes what I went through. The attacks would only come at one specific time and that was when I was alone in my bed right before I would go to sleep. Tremendous guilt would come over me and I was suddenly so tormented by things that I did wrong. Memories of lies that I told in the past came back to haunt me. The mental anguish that I went through is really difficult to describe – It was as if I was literally experiencing mental torture. You would have thought that I had murdered someone by how tormented I was. Each time the attack came I did the only thing I knew to do and that was to cry out to God. I didn’t know what to pray. I just prayed that God would take the pain away. I can’t remember how long the attacks would last but they would eventually fade away and I would then be able to fall asleep. In the morning I would completely forget about the night before and I would go about my day as usual with no thought to the anxiety attacks at all. I honestly never thought about it during the day and I never told anyone about them. When I was busy going to school and hanging out with friends I was completely fine. It was only when I was alone in the dark…and then the attacks would come. Night after night it seemed the episodes were getting worse and more torturous.
I attended a Christian boarding school for high school. Friday and Saturday were our only nights that we got to stay outside until 10:30pm – this was a big deal for us. I remember there was this one Friday night we had a mandatory chapel meeting. I was mad. I couldn’t believe that they were taking our precious free night away from us to go to church. Mandatory church on Sundays was bad enough. This felt terribly unjust and unreasonable to my teenage self. I guess they invited a guest speaker to come to our school. I don’t remember his name but I do remember that he was Benny Hinn’s son-in-law. I couldn’t tell you anything of what he spoke about that night because I sat in my chair refusing to give any attention to the thing that was infringing upon my freedom.
At the end of his talk he said, “Come to the front if you’re a Christian.” Immediately I felt uncomfortable. I was a Christian, always had been, and I had no desire to come to the front. But if I didn’t then everyone would think that I wasn’t a Christian and what would Jesus think of me if I denied Him before others? (This was honestly what was going on in my head at the time). So out of fear of rejecting God publicly I reluctantly forced myself to the front. There were about 8 other students standing in a half circle in front of the speaker. I was the last to complete the circle. He then said, “Raise your hand if you want prayer.” I looked at the other students to see if they were raising their hands – unfortunately they all were so I slowly raised my hand up a couple inches. He started on the side opposite of me and began praying for each person one by one. After he would pray he had a specific message from God for each of them individually – I had never seen that before so I thought it was interesting. Finally when he got to me I suddenly felt God’s presence and I started to cry even before he began talking. I just remember him saying to me, “God told me to tell you, whatever you’ve done and whatever has happened to you is gone. It’s completely gone.” I was crying uncontrollably and I didn’t know why. I never cried in front of others – I had a fear of crying in front of people. But in this moment God’s love consumed me to the core. I knew without a doubt that my past was forgiven and God was setting me free.
From that moment on I never had anxiety attacks again. I didn’t have a relationship with God right away after this but He was faithfully making Himself more and more real to me as I got older. And above all, God was showing me that He really loved me.
Here is what I learned through this:
- My sin is real and it is by God’s grace that I can see my sin for what it is.
“For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.” Romans 8:7
“…it was the law that showed me my sin…” Romans 7:7
- Satan is my accuser – Satan is the one who is condemning me.
“The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you’… Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ And turning to Jeshua he said, ‘See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” Zechariah 3:1-4
- Through Jesus Christ I am forgiven and set free from my sins and from Satan’s accusations.
“So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:21
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” Romans 4:7-8
-New Living Translation used-
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