Removing the thorns

by Jenni DeWitt

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When I was a little girl, I was terrified that our house would catch on fire. I would lay awake for hours, staring at the ceiling, as the hot fear raced through my veins like the fires of my imagination.

Over the years, the fear shifted to bad grades and fear of failure, but it was always there. Then I started having children, and the anxiety exploded like a vicious weed.

Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. (Mark 4:18-19)

In my heart, the word of God was choked with the thorns of anxiety. 

So I lived like that, captured in cycles of fear, until one day in 2012 when my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with leukaemia.

I was in shock as the anxiety threatened to overtake me. How could I ever survive all this fear?

But in the silence of my son’s hospital room, God spoke to me. Through His Word, He took my hand and helped me up. Then He showed me the story of Peter walking on water. Peter was fine at first, as He kept His eyes focused on Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

I began to understand that I was walking on the water of my anxiety and, just like Peter, I would start to sink if I took my eyes off Jesus. But that didn’t mean I would drown.

God was there in the middle of the storm. I could call out to Him, “Lord save me!” And he would come. He did come. He rescued me time after time as we waited for test results and watched our son fight for his life. 

Every time He rescued me with His peace that passes understanding, I could feel the thorns of anxiety being cut away from my heart one by one. 

In this way, over time, God tended my heart so that His word could fall on rich soil. 

“But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)

Is there a Bible verse that speaks to you with comfort in moments of great anxiety? Have you ever tried saying the verse out loud? Did it help?

View More: DeWitt is a recovering control freak who is discovering the value of rest and silent prayer in the midst of this rushed society. She is the author of two books — Forty Days and Why Won’t God Talk to Me? Jenni lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons. Her youngest son has been battling cancer since the age of two. Jenni loves to find Jesus in the everyday and writes about rejecting fear and choosing trust at


  1. says

    Hi Jenni! I was so impressed by the change in your heart at the bedside of your son. Wow. I can’t imagine how beside yourself you must have felt, and yet God just broke through all that sorrow. What power there is in his words…
    Thank you for sharing this painful time in your life, what an encouragement to you, and now to all who read this.

    • dewittjenni says

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Ceil. It truly was terrifying, but God was bigger than my fear. I cannot imagine going through this experience without Him! It would be unbearable.

  2. Audrey Pache says

    Thank you so much for sharing how you have been dealing with your fear and anxiety. I often feel like I am sinking and need to be reminded to keep my eye on Jesus. Sometimes it is a second by second thing.

    • dewittjenni says

      “Sometimes it is a second by second thing.” Yes! I can definitely relate to that. God helps us break things down until they are small enough we can handle them, and sometimes that’s as small as the next second. So grateful for your comment here today, Audrey!

  3. Mary Charles says

    This past year, my life has been turned upside down. I was and still am (although it’s better than it was) crippled with fear and anxiety. I know God’s promises, but my anxiety is so intense that I can’t trust those promises to be for me. I always doubt and think I will be the exception. It’s like you said, God’s word is being choked by my anxiety. Your story gives me hope. Thank you. Mary

    • dewittjenni says


      When life turns upside down, the world seems to take on a different color. Don’t you think? Nothing is safe. Nothing is familiar. I know full well what it’s like to feel like those promises God makes must not be for me.

      There is this verse in Romans: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

      For a while, whenever I read it, I was convinced I wasn’t in the group God was going to work it out for. But hindsight is 20/20, and now I understand that He meant that promise even for me — and He means it even for you.

      You will get there, Mary. One of these days the clouds are going to break in your life. One of these days you’ll be able to feel Jesus’ hand there in yours, and that’s when you will know it was there the whole time.

      Please know that I’ll be praying for you as we walk this path together.

      God bless!

  4. says

    I cannot imagine what a rough time that was for you, Jenny..but how wonderful that you were able to feel the presence of the Lord so profoundly. I struggle with anxiety, but forming a real relationship with God has certainly helped me. He has helped me get through really hard times, times that I now look back on and say to myself, “If God can help me get through that, He can help me get through anything!”

  5. says

    Love your words, Jenni. The peace that God has given you as a result of this trial comes through in every one of them. You have a beautiful, strong heart. {And I will follow up soon with an email on those questions!} Thanks and blessings…

  6. Tina M Wright says

    Jenni, I can’t imagine the weight you carried during this season of your life. Praise God for the work He did in your heart, and the peace He provided as you learned to turn your anxiety over to Him. Thank you for sharing from your heart. These words of wisdom were needed today! God bless, Tina

    • dewittjenni says

      Thank you, Tina! Yes I have learned so much. Still, it is a daily effort to remember to call out to Jesus as He tends my anxious heart. So grateful for your comments and your love!

  7. says

    Jenni, I love how faithful God is to show up right at the moment we so badly need him. What truth and love he provided to you. I can’t imagine what you went through but I praise Jesus that he was there with you. Thank you for sharing this story on Purposeful Faith’s #RaRalinkup. You bring such a wonderful testimony.

  8. says

    It must be so hard to have your child sick. Sometimes the only place God can get our attention is through trials, though I know it grieves Him. What a great reminder to keep our eyes on Jesus!

  9. danisejurado says

    God’s Truth always sets us FREE! 🙂

    Do not let your heart be troubled do not be afraid for the Lord your God will never forsake you…. oh how many times have I spoken those freeing words over my life…

    The Lord makes us brave… when we aren’t

    love to you

  10. kristine says

    What a beautiful blog, and such peace and wisdom in your writing! I’m so thankful to have come across your site on the link up:) Blessings to you today!

  11. says

    My verse is John 16:33. I love that you found peace. I don’t see how, but God is so wonderful. He is our deliverer in times of trouble. Your words inspired me greatly.

  12. Susan B Mead says

    Jenni, yes ma’am God showed up at your child’s bedside. Powerful words ringing His truth and love for each one of us. THANK YOU for joining the dance at #DanceWithJesus Friday linkup. Your words matter, to so many.


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