#OYP200for200 | Finding peace amidst our anxieties

By Jonathan Chua

Looking back at how my life has changed since my experience at School of Witness (SOW) 2019, I am reminded of how faithful God is when I abandon myself completely to Him. The verses that best encapsulate this truth are from Luke 10:41-42 – “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only One.”  I am glad that I can look back today and see how this has proved true in my life; the Lord is truly enough for me.

Prior to entering SOW, I chased achievements as I wanted to set myself up for success in my future career. I enjoyed the pace of university life and devoted my time to excelling at whatever I put myself to – this led to outstanding grades, awards, and the validation of my peers. Although I was active in my campus community, my worldly desires superseded my attempt to place God at the centre of my life. Things were moving too fast for me to notice how it was taking a toll on me, and so my relationship with God became just another part of my life.

It was a year before SOW when my life took a tumble. While feeling like I was at the “peak” of my life, I drifted into a season of exhaustion. I spiraled into a cycle of crippling anxiety. Heavily weighed down by various responsibilities, the months that followed were filled with lonely cries out to God to alleviate my distress. It was an excruciating season having to trudge on, pretending that I was okay when I knew I was not. Over time, I felt estranged from myself as I sank deeper into a state of constant tiredness and despair. 

This eventually led to my decision in 2019 to take a pause from my way of living, to let go of my expectations for my own life, and to step into SOW to find renewal in God again. The first few weeks for me were filled with doubt and resentment. I was focused on my own pain and sense of failure, which created a resistance in my stone-walled heart. I brought many questions to Him and I demanded explanations – “God do you really love me? Where were you in my anguish? Will you ever heal me from my brokenness?”

However, there was a pivotal point that changed my perspective in this journey of restoration. A friend shared these words with me, and it has remained with me since, “It is not in the absence of problems that we find peace, but in the presence of Christ that we find true peace.” Hearing this was an enlightening moment for me, shifting the disposition of my heart in prayer and prompting me to invite Jesus into the painful areas of my life instead. This was healing for me as the words of my prayer began to change. I moved from praying “away” my problems, to opening up to Him as authentically and vulnerably as I could. I finally had a little more courage to bare my wounded heart to Him.

The image Jon received in SOW19′

Towards the end of SOW, we were asked to create an artwork as we reflected back on our encounter with the Lord. “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30) was the verse that came to mind. God revealed to me that I can be swept away by the many things offered by the world, so I needed to root myself in Him for He truly knows what is best for me. It was an invitation to let go of my own designs and to be reconciled with Him. I recognized that He was calling me to “be” instead of to “do”; to be His beloved. 

Today, I am still a work in progress. Although the journey of faith is challenging with what life brings along, I know I can trust in the Lord for He is greater than my worries. I can look to Him with deeper conviction and run to Him anytime for hope and reassurance. The temptation to ruminate on the many things to “fix” in my life and to be overwhelmed still comes to me occasionally, but God has gifted me with an encounter in my heart of His faithfulness and of the peace that only He can give. I simply need to surrender all my worries and fears, and patiently be with Him.

We can always return to Him and sit at His feet with simple faith and trust, just as Mary did. “But few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42).  Indeed, only one thing is necessary, for the peace that He readily offers will never be taken away from us even in the midst of our greatest anxieties.