“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3 (ESV)
Anxiety can be crippling. Anxiety will imagine a future, and then give us the potential fears of that imagined future. These imaginary fears then become real fear and anxiety in our lives as we wrestle with, obsess over, and struggle against the things that are not yet, things that could be, and the things that might happen. Anxiety is taking potential fear from your tomorrow, and allowing it to become real fear for your today.
The problem with anxiety is that there will never be a shortage of things over which you can be anxious. There can always we be an unpleasant potential future for you to fear today. There will always be a tomorrow that you can imagine today that will cause anxiety in your life. The problem with anxiety is that its possibilities are limitless, and its effects on our lives can be devastating.
So what do we do? What can we do? As followers of Christ, what specifically should we do to fight anxiety in our hearts and lives?
The Causes of Anxiety
Lets begin by looking at the two fundamental root causes for anxiety in a Christian’s life. If you are a follower of Christ, all anxiety in our lives can be traced to one of two fundamental root causes.
As Christians, we read that our God is sovereign. (Psalm 135:6, Job 42:2, Psalm 24:1-2) We read that he is in control, and read that nothing catches Him by surprise. (Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 46:10, Hebrews 4:13) We read that He has a plan, and that His plan is good. (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 12:2) We read these things, and yet we struggle to believe them.
In so many cases, it seems easier to trust that God is sovereign over all of creation and history, over all of the big stuff, than it is to believe that He is sovereign over our lives, and over all of the small stuff.
One of the primary root causes for anxiety is unbelief. Do you believe that God is sovereignly in control over our lives? Do you believe that He is our shepherd, and that we will not be in want? (Psalm 23:1) Do you believe that He leads and He guides? (Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Psalm 139:23-24) Do you believe that He cares for you? (Psalm 8:4, Psalm 23, Luke 12:7) Do you believe?
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)
The other root cause for anxiety in the life of a believer is a lack of trust. In this case, you believe that God is sovereign. You believe that He is in control. You believe that He is never surprised. But, you struggle to trust that His plans are best for you. You struggle to trust that He is good, and that He knows what is best for your life.
You read Scripture and you read the history of all of the saints that have gone before you who have trusted God, and yet who have endured really difficult things in life. You think about the story of Job. You think about the martyrs. You think about the thousands of Christians today who are being persecuted for their faith, and you begin to question the goodness of the will of God. In this case, you believe that God is in control, but you struggle to trust that He is good.
Do you trust Him? Do you trust that He knows best for your life? Do you trust that His plans for you are for His glory and for your ultimate good? (Romans 8:28) Do you trust that He loves you?
The Remedy for Anxiety
Where there is anxiety in the life of a believer, there is found with it either an unbelief in the sovereignty of God, or a lack of trust in the goodness of God. And for a believer, there are two things that we must do in our struggle with anxiety.
“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie” – Romans 1:25a (ESV)
First, we must repent of our unbelief and our lack of trust, because we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25a) Rather than believing that our God is sovereign over all creation, we believe the lie that He is not in control of our lives. Rather than believing that our God is good and that His plans for his children are good, we believed the lie that He cannot be trusted.
Anxiety reveals our need to come to our loving God, in Christ, with a heart of repentance. Repenting from our belief in the lie, and turning to our God who is sovereign and who is good.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
As we come to our God in repentance, the remedy that we are given all throughout Scripture for our anxiety is prayer. And the reason for this is simple; Prayer expresses our belief and our trust in our God. Therefore, prayer strikes directly at the root cause of our anxiety, and reinforces our belief and trust in our sovereign and good God!
Paul tells us in Philippians that as we come to our God in prayer, that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ. The importance of this truth cannot be overstated. Our hearts and minds are guarded in Christ as we come to him in our anxiety!
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 (ESV)
As a Christian, we understand that anxiety is the byproduct of our lack of belief that our God is sovereign, and our lack of trust that our God is good. And as followers of Christ, we then come to our God in repentance and prayer, knowing that He is good, that He loves us, and that He cares for us better than we can care for ourselves. In light of that, anxiety simply cannot stand beside the reality of our sovereign and good God.
I will conclude with the words of Jesus (Found in the best sermon ever preached)…
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)
More Information and Next Steps
Issues such as anxiety and depression can be extremely difficult to navigate. There is rarely an “easy” fix, and our lives can be complex with everyone’s situations presenting different variables and complexities. However, one thing that is absolutely true is that you are not a “less-than-Christian” because of your struggle. You are simply recognizing an area of your life in which you need help, grace, and support.
For those who struggle with anxiety, this post is meant to come along side of you as an encouragement. Our God cares for you. He cares about you, and He has invited you to come to Him with your burdens. However, He has not called you to do this alone. I encourage you to get connected to a community. To get connected with a group of people who are able to hold you up, and help bear your burdens together. If you are not connected to a community like this, please click on the button below.
Although anxiety can be difficult to navigate, know that our God cares for you, know that our God cares about you, and know that there is a community of God’s people who cares for you as well. You are not called to do this alone. So come to God and come to community.
Please let us know if we can help you in your struggle with anxiety by filling out the contact form below.