Yeah, I get it. Anxiety is real. Life gets tough, trials hit, pressure mounts, and our flesh takes over— before we know it, we’re overwhelmed with worry. In fact, that is exactly how the dictionary would define anxiety.
Thankfully, for those of us who trust in Jesus, we don’t have to wander aimlessly when it comes to anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety and worry, you are not doomed to a life without answers. God’s Word holds the key to your anxious heart.
So what does the Bible say about anxiety, stress, nervousness, and worry? Well, friend, I’m glad you asked.
First of all, we need to see how the Bible defines anxiety, and one of the best places to see this is in Philippians 4:6–7. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…” The word anxious is the idea of being deeply concerned, worried, completely occupied with, or showing obsessive interest in that which is weighing heavily on our hearts. Knowing that, it becomes clear why we miss the mark when we expend our mental energies and our emotions on being anxious. When we allow our hearts to do this, we are essentially telling the Lord, “I don’t trust you fully, you can’t handle my situation, and I don’t genuinely think you are powerful enough to carry this burden, Lord!” You may think that is an exaggeration, but deep down our worry and anxiety are rooted in a lack of trust. Going even deeper, our worry and anxiety can even be rooted in our own selfish motives as we think, what if God doesn’t work this out the way that I want, or give me what I want?
Being clear and honest about this definition and the wrestling match going on in our hearts, the natural questions beg: So what do I do? Aren’t I just a victim of my emotions? The Bible helps us answer those questions.
Here are three initial steps you should take:
Recognize the Onset of Anxiety
In the moment when circumstances overwhelm you, or when doubt in God’s sovereign power begins to set in… Mark it. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. This may be the hardest step in the process, but when you can master this spiritual discipline, this step is where victory over anxiety begins. Psalm 56:3–4 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” And why does David feel this way? Because he KNOWS the truth about what God has done for him! Look at the final verse of Psalm 56, in verse 13 that says, “For you have delivered my soul from death, yes my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” David is reminded that circumstances don’t matter in the light of God’s eternal plan! Regardless of what is happening in life. And if anyone had the right to be anxious in this moment it was David! He had just been captured by the Philistines! And those guys were bad news. They were like wild pirates who actually lived to inflict horrible pain and death on people. But in the moment, David recognized his heart’s desire to be anxious and he fought against it. And what was the tool that he used in the fight? He ran to the Lord in prayer, and He trusted in God.
Run to the Father in Prayer
So like David, when we recognize our heart falling into the snare of anxiety, we must run to the Father in prayer. And why is prayer the natural and immediate response to our worry? Because God’s Word commands it to be! Yeah, ok, but why!? Because of this… And here is the real tragedy with anxiety… We are called to place our faith in God. Our full and complete trust. And when we worry and embrace our natural, fallen flesh, emotional response to be overly concerned with our circumstances, then we are by nature denying the complete and perfect trust that we should have in God. And to rob God of our trust in Him is to tell Him that He is unworthy to be our God.
So we run to the Father in prayer! In fact, Philippians 4:6–7 command that we do so, but not only that, verse 7 promises us the divine blessing of doing so! Verse 4 tells us not to “be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication (or humble worship), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” And what is the promised result? Verse 7 says, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace will guard your heart from falling into fear, all of us who love our Lord Jesus Christ and who trust in Him for our salvation.
Rely on God’s Family for Strength
So we recognize the onset of anxiety, and in that recognition, we acknowledge the weakness of our flesh and our need for our Father in heaven through prayer. But also we run to each other for support, for fellowship, for the building up of the body, and for safety in faithful numbers. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Did you hear that? When we lift one another in prayer and we strengthen each other in our weaknesses, we actually fulfill the purpose that Jesus gave to us! We are actually called to lean on each other for strength, as well as for reminder that it is God who is our strong tower, as we learn from Proverbs 18:10.
The family of God is an incredible gift. We are all designed to function in God’s family to the benefit of one another, so when we find ourselves falling into fear, or when you recognize one of your brothers or sisters in Christ falling into anxiety, then it is the responsibility of the rest of us to build you up, or build that individual up in love, strengthening their faith in God with the truth about God from the Word of God!
When you find yourself dealing with anxiety, or if you have suffered through it and are now dealing with the after effects, take this with you to help find your strength and your heart’s peace in God. Recognize the onset of anxiety, and when it is there, run to the Father in prayer! And finally, rely on God’s family for strength to help get you through the storm.