Many church-going teenagers and young adults share a common predicament: the difficulty of sharing their faith. Most of these budding evangelists and missionaries say that they have a “fire within” that could not be contained. Yet, at the same time, they find themselves weighed down by self-doubt and apprehensions. While their faith pushes them to open up and reach out to other people to share their beliefs, these young “sharers of the Word” become discouraged buy their own lack of confidence in their abilities or “gifts.” Being unsure of whether they are fit to do the task, they shy away and tell themselves that they are simply incapable of the enormous responsibility given by their church.
You now have come face-to-face with the realities of spiritual conviction. Your body suffers from nausea,vomiting, shortness of breath, and chest pain — all of which are signals that something is not right in terms of your physical and emotional health. Dizziness, lack of appetite, restlessness — these are only some of the distressful manifestations or anxiety symptoms felt by young missionaries and aspiring men and women of the cloth.
Medical studies describe anxiety attacks as psychological responses to stress which can vary from person to person. These overwhelming emotions of fear, worry and apprehension can really affect the normal activities of soldiers – Christian soldiers, that is. Even with all their courage and bravado, they still see find it hard to cope with their anxiety attacks. Without exception, new Christians experience a roller coaster of emotions as they follow the Great Commission.
As new believers without experience in the “battlefield of faith”, the temptation to flee from the very source of their anxiety becomes a daily struggle. Instead of proclaiming their faith the way they were trained in summer camp or in the seminary, many young missionaries backtrack and postpone their task to share their faith with other people. Psychiatrists call this the “fight or flight” syndrome.
Sharing one’s faith is always an arduous task, especially for the first timer. Even the ancient scriptures tells the story of how the prophet Abraham, the great patriarch of faith also faced anxiety. Abram, later renamed as Abraham, was a rich merchant in Ur (which is in present-day Iraq) who had all the luxuries of life. But one day, God spoke to him and gave him the command to travel to a foreign land.
Abraham, like any other mortal being, experienced anxiety and stress as he tried to obey God.
However, despite the anxiety symptoms he had to face everyday, he still followed God and took his “journey of faith.” Later, he became the “Father of all Nations” and started a new nation that eventually occupied the land of Canaan. That nation was Israel. The lesson behind the remarkable life of Abraham is that one is truly capable of defeating anxiety and the overwhelming sense of duty if his life is dedicated in service to a Higher Power. That very same Higher Power would help even the most timid of men to become brave and secure in the promises given them by the Supreme Being.
While it is true that not everybody can attain the same spiritual heights and physical longevity that was achieved by Abraham. But all can learn from how the man called “The Friend of God” was able to overcome stress and anxiety. His faith was tested in the fire. As a result, his convictions grew stronger, his faith was refined, and his life was totally renewed. By accepting challenges and the anxieties that naturally come as part of life, a person can exercise his faith and find a more blessed future with God.