When I wake up each morning the first thing I’m aware of is this rather loud buzz in my right ear. I’ve had tinnitus (a sound in your ears that comes from the brain, not your surroundings), for a few years. But, for a couple of months now it has increased in consistency and volume and is accompanied by a full sensation in the ear. As you can imagine, it also gets in the way of me hearing clearly.
Tinnitus is one of those annoyances in life that can light the flame of fear. The questions that fear ignites are common: “What if this is my new normal?” “Can this get worse?” “Can I cope with this?” More specific to this condition, “Is this going to stop me from being able to communicate in a crowded room?” “Will I ever enjoy lying down to sleep again?”
When I feel the panic of these fears creeping into my thoughts I do one of four things: focus on the fears, pray, distract myself, or compare myself to those in chronic pain. I think the latter habit has pros and cons. The pro is it serves to be a distraction because friends come to mind who need prayer and who inspire me with their forbearance. The con is comparison can be a source of fruitless guilt.
As one who puts my faith in Jesus, I’ve been instructed to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, put on the full armor of God and take my stand against the devil’s schemes. For those with physical ailments it may sound weird to read in Ephesians 6:10-12 “that our struggle is not against flesh and blood”, because our physical experience is that it most certainly is flesh and blood! I’m coming to the slow realization that there is an AND here. I’m living with the trial of physical ailments AND the devil can use those to get me to struggle in my thought life.
I don’t want tinnitus. I don’t want a full sensation in my ear. I don’t get to have a say in either condition.
I don’t want to be consumed daily with either one of these annoyances. I do have a say in what I focus on and the status I give anxiety and fear in my day.
Jesus doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. And Jesus is a rescuer from anxiety. And, anxiety happens to exacerbate tinnitus!
James 4:7 tells me — “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.
It’s time for resisting. It’s up to me to take advantage of the mighty power I have in Christ and resist anxiety and fear. There are signs scattered throughout the city I live in that say RESIST. They are political signs meant to proclaim that the owners of these signs will not accept “this new reality as normal”.
I choose to RESIST and not accept my physical conditions to dictate what is my new normal. Fear and anxiety are not normal. The sound mind given to me by Jesus is my normal.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
I thought the previous sentence was the end of this essay. As I read over it I realize it’s as confusing as the RESIST signs posted around my city. Just how does one go about resisting? Gritting my teeth doesn’t help tinnitus and it doesn’t help overcoming fear and anxiety. How then, do I take advantage of the mighty power of Christ and resist anxiety and fear? Ephesians 6:10-12 needs verses 13-18.
It takes armor to successfully take a stand:
The belt of truth to be ready. The breastplate of God’s approval to protect our hearts. The footgear to proclaim the gospel of peace. The shield of faith to to extinguish all the flaming arrows the evil one sends our way. The helmet of salvation to protect our mind from doubting what God has done. The sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word. And prayer to the God who helps us stand with all this armor.
My normal? I’m living with a sound mind, in a battle, knowing God’s won the war for me.