Knowing that we all walk through all kinds of trials as Christians, I recently started labeling these types of journeys as “Faith Test Anxiety.”  (Yes, I was experiencing that in my entry from a few weeks ago and I am still experiencing some of that “faith test anxiety” although things have somewhat improved.) Most of us at some point in our lives have experienced some level of test anxiety. When materialized to an extreme, test anxiety is actually labeled as a learned psychological condition. I found several online resources that provide tips on ways for managing test anxiety and I think a few can be applied, with a spiritual twist, to our own individual lives. So here are a few ways to keep things in check and better manage “faith test anxiety.”

1. Develop good study habits: Spending time in prayer, meditating upon the scriptures, and knowing the Word serves as a great example to help prepare us for any challenge. Whether this is done individually through personal devotions or participating in group Bible studies, it’s important to develop this regular discipline. A solid knowledge of the scriptures keeps us grounded. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 2. Talk to your teacher: Getting feedback from people who have mentored you in your faith, such as Bible study leaders, Christian friends, pastors, elders, or deacons is a good place to start. We are all called to disciple one another, teach others, gently correct others when they sin, and carry one another’s burdens. Having others around to support you, pray with you, keep you in check, and encourage you is essential. Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burden, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

3. Don’t ignore a learning disability: Ok, this is a little tongue in cheek here, but how many times does it take for us to learn something and believe in God’s holiness? If I didn’t have a solid understanding of the meaning and evidence of God’s grace and mercy in my life, I’m sure He would have enrolled me in a faith learning enrichment program by now. Just review some of Peter’s actions and you’ll likely feel better about yourself.  Matthew 15:15-16 “Peter said, ‘explain the parable to us.’ ‘Are you still so dull?’ Jesus asked them.”

This of course follows chapter 14 where the disciples had just witnessed Jesus walking on water, Peter jumping out of the boat, walking on water, then getting scared. Peter starts to sink, yells at Jesus to save him; Jesus grabs Peter and comments, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Followed by the boat of Disciples saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:25-33)  How many miracles had they witnessed at this point? {Perhaps there IS such a thing as a faith learning disability?}

4.  Get some exercise: Getting some aerobic exercise releases tension. I don’t get nearly enough, but I personally find exercise to be less mentally taxing than most of the other things I do throughout my day.  A walk through the neighborhood allows me to concentrate on other things and provides me with new visual stimuli. This is also a great way to get some alone time and have an informal conversation with God.

 5.    Visualize Success: When I’m wondering, “What the heck is God trying to tell me and where will I end up,” it’s hard to visualize much of anything. But envisioning where you want to be will help you verbalize your thoughts and feelings adequately in order to, “present your requests to God.” Once you can visualize yourself in a certain place, you can analyze how you got there and see things more clearly. Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

 Managing a career transition or job loss is stressful. For those who are unemployed, the financial burden alone is incredibly difficult to manage, not to mention the emotional turmoil of self-doubt, lack of confidence, and questioning your own self-worth.  But you’ve got to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, get into a productive routine, get out of the house, meet people, and manage your “faith test anxiety” with as much courage as you can possibly muster.

Yes, your faith is being tested. Some days you may fail miserably; other days your performance will be average. And yes, there will be days when singing “It is Well With My Soul” is completely contrary to the truth. Thankfully, each day with Christ is a new day. He knows what is in store for us, and He walks that road with us, and nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ. Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”