You don’t have to look far to find someone who struggles with anxiety. Maybe you know several people in your church who deal with anxiety. Maybe it’s someone in your extended family, friends, or work group. Maybe it’s even someone in your home. Or perhaps you are like me, and you’ve struggled with anxiety yourself–at least to some extent.
According to this article from Elements Behavioral Health, here are 8 “facts” about anxiety and anxiety disorders:
- It’s normal to worry or feel anxious about some things in life.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.
- There are many types of anxiety disorders:
- General anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Phobic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Women have double the risk for anxiety disorders than men do.
- Anxiety disorders are often accompanied by other related disorders.
- Anxiety can cause or exacerbate physical illnesses.
- Anxiety may be hereditary. (“Many researchers and medical professionals also believe there’s such a thing as inherited anxiety, while others think it has more to do with learned behavior than genetics.”)
- Anxiety can be managed and treated effectively.
- Talk therapy (psychotherapy)
- Coping strategies
- Alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture
So apparently, as you probably already knew, anxiety is pretty common. But what about for Christians? What does the Bible say about it?
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“Be anxious for nothing.” That sounds like a command! So even if “It’s normal to worry or feel anxious”, God is commanding us not to be anxious. If you struggle with anxiety, you might be thinking, “Easier said than done!” I get it, but the Word goes on to tell us what to do instead of being anxious. (The world call this a “coping mechanism”.)
“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Whenever you feel anxious, STOP letting those feelings go through your head. Get on your knees, if possible, and dive into prayer. Tell God about all of your anxieties and ask Him for a solution. Make your requests to God, instead of just worrying about them! THANK God for being there, for being powerful enough to handle whatever it is that is worrying you. Say that phrase out loud. “God, You are strong and powerful. You can handle this.” Keep saying that phrase, until you believe it–even if that leaves you saying it for years!
If we do this, the Scripture leaves us with a promise! “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Wow! Now, you might be a skeptic. That’s okay! God says that you can’t possibly understand this peace, or how this peace is even possible! You won’t understand it! Quit trying to rationalize or understand it before you obey God. You’re not going to understand, but you can begin to believe it if you will obey. You can believe it, because when you obey–when you take your requests to Him and offer thanksgiving to Him, regardless of how you are feeling–HE WILL ALWAYS FULFILL HIS PROMISE! If you are faithful to obey, you will experience His peace! That’s a promise!
Lest you think that this one paragraph is all you have to lean on in Scripture, it’s not. The Bible gives hope for you all throughout it’s pages. Now, I’m not going to pretend that there might not be physical or hormonal imbalances that are causing your anxiety. However, I will still say that God has an answer! He might help you through His Word AND medicine, or through leading you to change your habits or even by changing the very circumstances that you are in. Or he could just change your heart to one that is less anxious. He can do that! And He will change your heart if you will follow, obey, and seek the things His Scripture says.
Not long before Jesus died, He told His followers, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus left us His peace!
Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” When you are anxious, He can comfort you and be a delight to your soul!
Matthew 6:31-34 says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Do you often get caught up worrying and feeling anxious about tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or even 30 years from now? When our minds focus on all that has to be done, or all that could possibly go wrong, it’s nearly impossible to find peace. But when we seek FIRST the things of God’s kingdom, God will take care of us. He knows our needs. Let HIM be the One to worry about them. You just focus on today.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You.”
Is your mind stayed on the Lord? Stayed. That word means exactly what it says! If your mind STAYS on the Lord–and doesn’t wonder from circumstance to emotion to worry to fear–but truly STAYS focused on the Lord, thinking of Him all throughout the day, then God will keep you in PERFECT PEACE.
PERFECT peace? Not just a little corner of peace or a moment of peace. Perfect Peace. He will keep you there. In perfect peace. Why? Because you trust in God. When you trust in God, you will have peace.
Is your mind stayed on the Lord? If not, this is where you begin. Not in life change, or in seeing doctors, or in taking supplements. God might lead you down that road as you seek Him, but don’t start there. Start with the Lord, and trust that He is powerful enough to handle anything–even your anxiety. Trust Him. When we are weak, He is strong.
May your day find you in perfect peace, as your mind is stayed on the Lord!