Anxiety in military life is common and it can knock us to our knees. In this week’s Monday Minute, Ginger shares how God helped her rise up and overcome it during a particularly difficult season of her life.
Faith to Overcome Anxiety in Military Live
by Ginger Harrington
Anxiety waits like white noise in the background of my thoughts until uncertainty triggers an adrenaline rush through my system. Anxiety is worry on steroids, but both are rooted in our emotional response to uncertainty and fear. Whether you call it anxiety, worry, or fear, these emotions respond to what we believe in the moment.
Military life provides many opportunities (big and small) to experience anxiousness: danger on the job, competition for promotion, changes in leadership, transitions of duty station, issues with PTSD, conflict with co-workers, needs in the family. The first year we lived in Okinawa, Japan, I struggled with one challenge after another. My anxiety ramped up. And stayed up.
I was anxious about where we would end up living when a typhoon damaged our assigned quarters before we arrived. The first few months my teens were lonely and miserable missing the friends and comforts of “home.” The rattling motor of my hand-me-down car made noises that triggered fear of a breakdown while “out in town.” Shortly after our household goods finally arrived, my husband received orders to deploy to the Middle East. Anxiety made me feel unsteady, like the ground beneath my feet was slipping away.
The next challenge nearly undid me.
My mom received a terminal cancer diagnosis three weeks after my husband left on his deployment. “Why did you move us to the other side of the world for all of this to happen? Why this? Why now?” The more I obsessed over the problems before me, the more consuming my anxiety grew.
These words from Scripture hit home in a deep way:
“If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your faithfulness, Lord, will support me.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your comfort delights my soul.”
Psalm 94:18-19 NASB
Biblical language can sometimes distance us from the reality of God’s Word, especially when our feelings are on overdrive.
In this passage, the word slip refers to tottering, the unsteadiness of being off-balance. It also means to be moved, greatly shaken, or overthrown. During this time, I was emotionally off-balance, tottering between faith and fear. David must have seen inside my soul when he wrote, “My anxious thoughts multiply within me.”
I prayed this verse many times, deliberately shifting my thoughts from my circumstances to focus on God’s faithfulness. I realized the “comfort that delights my soul” results from practicing the presence of God in the midst of my problems and concerns. Anxiety seeks answers we desire, for everything to work out OK. With the kids, my husband’s safety, and my mom’s treatment I prayed, “Lord calm my anxious heart and help me to keep my mind focused on you in each of these challenges.”
I memorized another verse to focus on when my thoughts and feelings began to slide down anxiety’s slippery slope:
“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.”
A mind stayed on God–this is the condition, the mental posture that enables us to receive the blessing God provides–the peace of His Spirit. We often think of stayed as meaning strong and steady, but surprisingly, the meaning of this Hebrew word is to support, lean upon or take hold of.
Leaning on God, I can depend on Him to provide the mental self-control I so often lack.
It is the turning, depending on God that opens the door to receive the soul peace He offers.
Over time, my kids loved living in Okinawa, and my husband came home safely. That summer we were able to visit my mom, cherishing every moment of our time together. Peace and strength to rise up from fear is a gift from God, rather than the fixing of every problem. Some issues resolve, but others don’t turn out the way we want. In the last few weeks I spent with my mother, God gave me a gift of peace, a settled mind, and the strength to say a hard goodbye. Knowing my history with anxiety, I knew God kept my mind stayed on him.
Recognize when anxiety starts to consume your thoughts. Consider what your emotions reveal about what you believe in the moment.
Remember God’s faithfulness. Interrupt the spiral of anxious thoughts by remembering the power, promise, and presence of God. Meditate on God’s Word and declare his truth. Every time you catch yourself dwelling on the problem, shift your attention to the truth that strength and peace come from God.
Receive by faith the support, care, and peace of God in prayer. Hold fast to the truth of God’s promises despite what you feel. Rise up in faith by trusting God in the midst of your challenges and anxiety in military life.
Lord, help me to focus on your faithfulness when fear invades my thinking. Keep me from slipping into a state of anxiety. I trust you to keep me in your perfect peace as I stay my mind on you. Amen.
If anxiety in military life has knocked you down, our prayer team would be honored to pray for you. Submit your confidential prayer request here.