“The first duty of love is to listen.” –Paul Tillich
The art of listening is crucial, especially to someone with anxiety. Listening with compassion and care can help relieve the burden of the speaker; reassuring and giving peace of mind as they pour out their heart.
Some Christians, myself included, are quick to offer Philippians 4 without really hearing the person. It is like going to the doctor and receiving a prescription without even discussing your problem. We all know how it feels when a friend rushes to offer advice when you need someone to listen. The same thing happens when we offer Phillippians 4 as our first step in consolation.
Don’t dish out Matthew 6:34, assuming it will be received with faith. Listen first, and then start with edifying scripture that shows care, and God’s love and presence. “When you’re really struggling inside, it can feel very lonely, and what you need most is someone to know you, not just fix you. You need them to care”.
If You’re Dealing with Anxiety
Know that God loves and cares about you and that you are not alone in this journey. God is here for you and he will listen to you any time and any day. He is your Number 1 Listener.
There are no quick fixes and no one solution fits all. Well-intentioned advice could bring unintended shame. For example, If your friend has been fighting a battle for years and you walk in with, “Oh, just do this – it’s easy with God!” It can feel like you’re saying, “If you were a good Christian, you’d know this already.” Shame makes anxiety worse. The best help you can offer is listening. Kris Langham
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me” Psalm 139:1
Stop there. That’s huge. God knows you (anxious or not). He knows everything about you, and He still loves you.
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” Psalm 139:2
Even when you feel alone in your thoughts, God knows. You are not alone. When you move and when you stop, He is there. He hears you, he listens, and he cares.
“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” Psalm 139:3-4
When you feel like you just can’t clearly express your feelings, God understands your words even before you say them.
“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” Psalm 139:5-6
This is so beautiful. David, the author of this Psalm, was no stranger to trouble, and all kinds of mixed emotions. Yet here he simply stands in awe at the fact that God knows him. Knows him deeply. He reflects that this kind of knowledge, God’s knowledge of me, is too wonderful to even grasp.
You’re Always in God’s Presence
The first six verses are all about being known, but the next six move to God’s presence, and the impossibility of escaping it.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12
No matter how far you run, or where you hide, God is there. God sees you and He knows you. You may feel alone in the darkness, but God is with you. And there is a deep rest that comes in simply knowing His presence. I call it the awareness of His thereness.
And that, for me, changes everything. Like a little kid alone in bed at night, afraid of every threat, real or imagined, it all fades when I know that a loving God is there to keep me safe.
Read Psalm 139 for yourself, and take some time to consider how well the Lord knows you.
- In verses 1-6, what does it mean to you that God knows you thoroughly? How should that realization affect your worries and concerns?
- In verses 7-12, David reflects on the impossibility of fleeing from God. How does your awareness of God’s constant presence affect your thoughts and your heart?
Thank you for reading. I listened to this devotion by Kris Langham and it inspired me to share with you guys. To be continued, stay tuned. I hope you’ll be blessed by it and alleviate some anxieties. Happy Wellness Wednesday. Stay Blessed Always!