Heart palpitations. Upset stomach. Nausea. Shortness of breath. Intense sweating. Feeling faint, numb. Crazy–out of your mind thoughts. Anxiety strugglers recognize these symptoms. Jesus wants you to know He totally gets your anxiety.
Anxiety in the Garden of Gethsemane
Observing Lent is a way I prepare my heart for the holy season of Easter. While reading about the agony Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, it struck me that the author Matthew describes a full-blown panic attack.
Our Jesus totally gets anxiety.
Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” … he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this… When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said…, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” Matthew 26:36-40
Jesus told his friends that he was very sad and troubled and that “my heart is so heavy with grief, I feel as if I am dying.” He felt like he had lost all control and just wanted his friends to stay with him. He didn’t want to be alone. “Can you wait here and stay awake with me?”
The thought that Jesus could have suffered a panic attack never occurred to me until I read Bonnie Gray’s Whispers of Rest.
The overwhelming anxiety of the unknown, but the certain pain and fear of what was to come brought Jesus to His knees. Right to where you and I sometimes have to go, when we don’t know what to do.
Jesus Experienced Severe Anxiety
The level of extreme anguish Jesus felt that night caused his sweat to turn to blood. Hematidrosis is a rare, but very real, medical condition where one’s sweat will contain blood. The sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture where the blood will then effuse into the sweat glands.
Anxiety is associated with a state of uneasiness and apprehension, especially about future uncertainties. AnxietyBC defines it as an intolerance of uncertainty to the point that strugglers seem allergic to it. They don’t like it when they are not 100% sure of themselves, others, their actions and decisions, or the future.
Yet, Jesus pushed through uncertainty
But Jesus, being fully God, yet fully human, embraced his full humanity. The God-nature knew there was no uncertainty. His human nature saw the horrors of what He must endure.
[Jesus] knows He’s going into this combat against Hell—for our salvation, for our souls—and He’s in this great trembling agony, with anxiety facing the pain and labor of the conflict…For in His humanity, Jesus experienced the full weight, the full intensity of what it would mean to die for our sin ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I don’t understand the struggle my husband and those I love have with anxiety. But if Jesus gets what anxiety is all about, then I want to learn from Him how to effectively love my anxiety strugglers.
Brian Johnson, from Bethel Music, shares about the day anxiety made him feel completely out of control:
If you’ve ever experienced that kind of thing, you’re completely out of control and there’s not an ounce of will-power that can get you out of that…it feels like you’re going to be in eternity, tormented forever, and there’s no hope. That day, the anxiety got to a point where my heart started racing, and I remember saying, “I can’t do this.” I was freaking out, and we called for an ambulance. They hooked me up to oxygen until we could get to the hospital. Before we left, I remember grabbing my kids and telling them, “This is when God becomes real.” A lot of the time, life happens, but nothing pushes us over the limit to where it’s God or nothing at all.
Jesus Became Real
When we read the gospels of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, we see that Jesus and his disciples and friends go from on top of the world, to joyful and thoughtful at a supper, to anxious in a garden, to hurting and despairing on the cross.
All to be culminated in the beautiful crazy victory of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
And the beautiful thing, is that Jesus gets it!
Jesus went through all the emotional ups and downs of life and all of its uncertainties. Anxiety, uncertainty, depression, He gets it and he went through them to get to the beautiful restoration of life that was the resurrection. ~Nathan Achterhof
Jesus gets your anxiety.
In what ways does knowing Jesus understands your struggle with anxiety encourage you?
When you face uncertainty, or feel pushed to the limit, will you allow God to be real with you in the struggle?