Help Thou Mine Unbelief: Overcoming Anxiety With Belief

5:51:00 PM


I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was a freshman student in UP Diliman. I stayed in Kalayaan Residence Hall when I was freshman and members of the UP Dormitories Christian Fellowship shared the Gospel to me. They invited me to their fellowships, Bible studies and church service. I attended and I continued seeking and knowing the Lord. I fell in love with the Lord and chose to serve Him for the rest of my life.

Then several months after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I started experiencing challenges in my life. I was not a university or college scholar for the semester. Most of my friends have very high general weighted average. I felt so disappointed about myself and I asked God why did He not give me good grades. I told Him that I already accepted Him as my Lord but why did it seem like He's not blessing me with my academics. Through my personal study of His Word, attending Bible studies, fellowship and church service, I understood what it really means to follow Jesus. I realized that I should never treat Him like a genie who grants all wishes. His foolishness is still way greater than my wisdom. He has His purpose. I didn't understand it back then but looking back now, I realized that He wanted me to love Him and trust Him in victory and defeat. He didn't want me to love Him just because I get a lot of benefits from Him. He wanted me to love Him because He is my God.

Then after another semester in UP Diliman, I encountered a very difficult challenge which changed my life and the way I view Christianity. I was second year back then. I admit that I am a worrier. I always overthink. One time, my roommate told me about his friend whose sibling died because of complications from hyperthyroidism. I looked it up in the internet and I started worrying then that it can also happen to me. One night, I was watching Naruto in my laptop after a very stressful exam in Analytical Chemistry, I started feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. I always check my pulse rate and I started to feel dizzy. I immediately went outside our room to get water but I felt very dizzy, my pulse was rushing and my vision started to go black. Good thing Kuya Marko (a friend from DCF) was there so I asked him to help me to go to the emergency room of UP.

I was very anxious during that time. I was praying to the Lord asking Him to help me get through that situation. I was shaking inside the emergency room. The ER doctor put me on oxygen because I have a hard time breathing. My blood pressure shoot up to 160/100 and my ECG result was not good (I didn't know how to interpret ECG back then but I know by the looks of it that something's not right). The ER doctor gave me medications to control the blood pressure and palpitations. Then the doctor asked me if I know how to pray. Looking back  I think she just wanted me to pray for quick recovery but then it made me more anxious because she sounded like something bad happened or might happen. After several hours, my blood pressure went down, ECG readings went back to normal but I still feel anxious.

The anxiety continued to haunt me for the next months. I wanted to know what caused that palpitation, increased BP and difficulty in breathing. Aside from that, being away from my family plus the burden of thinking where to get the money I need for all the diagnostic tests that I have to go through compounded my anxiety. I went to a family physician in UP to help me in my condition. I underwent several diagnostic tests: CBC, urinalysis, lipid profile, Chest Xray, ultrasound, thyroid function test, 2D echo, Holter monitor. All results were normal except that the cardiologist saw a very small leak in the bicuspid valve which was not actually significant (and later on when I entered PGH I learned it was not mitral valve prolapse, yehey!). I didn't know how to feel back then. In a way, I was thankful to the Lord that all my tests came back normal but on the other hand I felt more anxious because I didn't know what caused my condition. The family physician told me that if my symptoms persist, she will refer me to a psychiatrist. I prayed to the Lord back then to help me because I didn't want to go to a psychiatrist because of the stigma (I was not aware then about mental health. It only came to the limelight recently). If I can go back time, I would have consulted a psychiatrist back then. Now that I am in medical school, I realized and appreciated the psychiatrists and how they help patients undergoing different mental health problems.

The experience was very traumatic. It affected my academics. I didn't stay up late at night because of the fear that it can happen again in the wee hours of the night. I can't focus on our lectures and laboratory sessions. I was always disturbed and worried. I remember waking up in the midnight because of palpitations. I always wake up my roommate to help me go to the emergency room for check up. But then every time we go there, my vital signs were all normal. The experience was very debilitating. I came to the point that I already told my churchmates and friends that I really want to file a leave of absence because of my condition. 

I started questioning God why He allowed all of those things to happen. It was very hard for me to understand why did He allow those things to happen during the time that I started loving Him and I already had a personal relationship with Him. Some of my non-Christian friends told me that it happened to me because I left my previous religion for Christianity. During that time, I cannot find comfort from family, friends and churchmates. I know they're always willing to help. They give me sound advices but I cannot find refuge and comfort from their words. I was very frustrated. I was bargaining with the Lord: Please help me get through this Lord and I will follow You wherever You lead me. 

I was at the verge of giving up. I can no longer find healing from medical doctors, I can no longer find comfort from loved ones. All I have was God. I started reading His word religiously. I wanted answers for all of my questions. It took me months of reading the Bible, listening to sermons and songs about Him before I conquered my anxiety. God comforted me with His words and the stories of Biblical characters especially Jesus because despite adversaries they continued in their faith. In retrospect, I learned that God allowed all of those things to strengthen my faith. He knew that worrying is my weakness. He wanted me to put my full trust in Him. He wanted to teach me that He is always in control and is sovereign above all things. 

God uprooted me from all of my unbelief. It was painful but it was all worth it. Just like a seedling in a plant nursery, it will never grow if you just allow it to stay in the nursery. There will come a point that you really need to uproot it and transfer it to a larger and better soil in order for it to grow and bear fruit. That's exactly what happened to me. God uprooted from my doubts and fears and planted me in a soil of faithfulness, devotion and trust in Him. During that time, it felt like God was shouting at me "Lads! I have been so faithful to you. But just because you don't understand what I'm doing you're starting to question my sovereignty?". The Lord wanted me to release everything to Him. Because He promised to be with me even in the deep valley of my life. 

Lastly, the Lord taught me that when you receive comfort from God, He desires to use you to comfort others. The comfort of God overflows through human channels. Who else could understand a person going through anxiety but a person who also experienced anxiety. Sometimes God does not move mountains. I asked Him to remove my mountains (fears, doubt and anxiety). But He didn't do that. He allowed me to go through and conquer my mountains with His guidance and comfort. He walked with me because He knew that I needed to go through that mountain to break down all the barriers that hinder me from surrendering my whole life to Him. Praise God for his faithfulness.

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