Anxiety is real. It’s not a figment of your imagination nor is it an overreaction. You’re not experiencing it because you are weak, and it’s certainly not something you can simply outwill. Anxiety is real, it’s terrifying, it’s debilitating and it can seem like an insurmountable obstacle.
Fortunately, society (at least in America) has become more open to and understanding about mental health in general, but there is still work to be done, especially within the American church. For far too long, the topic of mental health has been shoved under the rug and chalked up as a New Age concern. As a result, those who battle it feel isolated, rejected, abnormal and ignored. I’m here to say, “I hear you, I’m with you and I’m sorry.”
For over 5 years now, my life has been riddled with anxiety, with several serious bouts along the way. Every peak had a different cause, manifested itself in a different way and came at different intensities, but all were difficult. I say this not to gain sympathy or cast blame, but to encourage you. No matter what your mind is telling you, you are not a lost cause and you are not alone. You have the greatest, wisest Counselor, Friend and Physician on your side, and His help comes at any hour and without a large bill at the end.
Yes, your anxiety may feel like an ever-widening black hole, but take heart, God is greater than your anxiety.
Whatever the source, depth and type, your anxiety is no match for the One who conquered death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 2 Timothy 1:10). All you need to do is trust Him, and the battle is no longer yours (Matthew 11:28-30). Gone are your days of leading the attack; God is in command, and He is undefeated (Job 42:1-2, Jeremiah 32:27). Plus, His tactics far outwit any you or the most renowned psychologist can muster (Psalm 147:5, Matthew 19:26). In the words of the great hymn Trust and Obey, “Trust and obey Jesus, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Simple enough, right? Of course not. I struggle with anxiety too, remember? I know it’s not that simple. God is all-powerful and is a God of love, but He’s no genie and I’m (you’re) not perfect.
Could God rid you of your anxiety with a flit of His wrist? Yes, He’s God after all! He wouldn’t even have to lift a pinky or say anything, He could just think it and it would be done. Therefore, the question is not, “Can God help with my anxiety,” nor is it, “Will God help with my anxiety,” but, “How will God help me with my anxiety?”
Now before you click away in frustration, let me share some encouragement from God Himself. In Romans 8:28 it says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Also in 2 Peter 3:9 it says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Therefore, the question is not, "Can God help with my anxiety," nor is it, "Will God help with my anxiety," but, "How will God help me with my anxiety?"
In summary: No matter what happens, God, in His time, will bring something good out of the things in which Satan intends for evil, and He will do so because He longs for everyone to be free in Him and free from Satan. Including you.
God knows your pain, confusion, fear and frustration, and it breaks His heart to see you struggle (Psalm 139:1-16). None of those things are what He intended for any of us, and the only reason they exist is because we were all given a choice. Rather than make us into mindless creatures who have no other option but to obey and “love” Him, God gave each of us a free will—one we get to exercise by choosing whether we love Him or hate Him. With the former, we are guaranteed eternal life with Him in Heaven solely by His grace and because Jesus took on the punishment we deserve for our sins (i.e. sins are all the times we used our free will to do things contrary to God and His desires) (John 3:16-18, Titus 3:5-7). In the latter case, we are promised eternal separation from God, resulting in horrific torment in Hell with Satan and his demons; again, not because God desires such a fate for anyone, but because a person chooses to exercise his/her free will in a way that shows his/her desire to please him/herself more than God (Matthew 13:49-50, John 12:46-48).
We’re all given a choice, plus countless opportunities to exercise said choice, and we all face trials of all sorts, including anxiety. The difference (other than our fate, of course) is the One from whom we receive our help and the efficacy of that help.
When you willfully and joyfully choose God, you automatically have the greatest Advocate at your side. Literally. It’s not wishful thinking or a scam Christians try to pass off on you to get you to say a prayer. When you accept Jesus and give Him control of your life, immediately you receive the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the “paraclete,” the Greek word meaning, “Helper,” “Advocate” and “Counselor.” Jesus promises such in John 14:16 when He says, “‘And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (paraclete), to be with you forever.” Jesus again speaks of this Helper in John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7.
God is our stronghold and He sends the Helper to those who wholeheartedly trust in and live for Him. Therefore, when those anxious thoughts prick at your mind, remember you have an Advocate who is there to shove them aside (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7). When you find yourself going down a mental rabbit hole of worry, your Helper is there with a strong, outstretched arm, ready to pull you out and into His arms (Isaiah 41:10, John 14:27).
When you willfully and joyfully choose God, you automatically have the greatest Advocate at your side.
No, the anxiety will not go away completely this side of Heaven (though God can make it so and sometimes does), but it will no longer be the mountain you once thought it to be. When those difficult moments come—and trust me, they’ll still come, especially when you choose God over Satan—God will be there. The God who works all things together for good for those who love Him and the God who wishes none to perish, He will be there. His plans for you are not just about you and they are greater than you’ll ever dream.
He may give you the opportunity to use your experience with anxiety to help someone (or several someones) in a similar situation (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). He may help you see those moments of anxiety as opportunities to depend on Him for strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Whatever His reason, it’s certainly not because He doesn’t care for you or wishes to see you suffer. Remember 2 Peter 3:9.
On the contrary, everything—yes, everything—God does or allows to happen is because He wants to strengthen you and for you to witness His infinite grace, love and strength, all of which He reserves especially for you (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:12-13).
So in those moments of fear, remember God’s courage is greater. In those moments when you feel unloved, remember God’s love for you is greater. In those moments where everything feels out of control and impossible, remember God is greater. No matter the height, width or depth of your anxiety, remember God is greater and He has you in the palm of His hand. Take heart, child, God has overcome the world (John 16:33).
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.