I struggle with anxiety. I guess this isn’t too hard to admit here, since many of you don’t know my name. My guess is that I’m not the only Christian that does. According to recent statistics about 18% of people over 18 suffer from some form of anxiety. That’s about 40 million adults in the US. Actually, anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem in America, surpassing even depression in numbers. So, I’m clearly not alone.
Embarrassed by Anxiety
That said, once my anxiety became a true problem a few years ago, I started to also feel guilty. I thought, if I had more faith, I wouldn’t be anxious. I felt that my anxiety was a verdict on the state of my walk with God. It took me a long time to realize that this might not be true.
I read all the scriptures that said we should “be anxious for nothing…” (Phil 4:6) but trust in the Lord who is sovereign. I tried – but I remained anxious. Through this experience I realized two things:
- God is very compassionate, in scripture, to those that are anxious
- Although we are to trust God there are practical things we can do
God is Compassionate to the Anxious Christian
I believe the Bible speaks about anxiety so much because it is one of satan’s tools and God knows that it can cripple us. (Bible versus on anxiety: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/anxiety.html).
“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” – Romans 8:26
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6-7
Scripture doesn’t condemn anxiety, it seems to compassionately try to help you avoid it and overcome it. This is an important difference. I don’t believe anxiety is a sin, still God doesn’t desire us to be anxious. He wants us to turn to Him in everything and trust him.
Actually, it is interesting that many famous Christians have suffered from anxiety including Abraham Lincoln, Rick Warren, John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) and even Charles Spurgeon (known as the ‘Prince of Preachers’) may have struggled with it. They all had a huge impact and therefore anxiety doesn’t need to stop us.
Practical Solutions to Anxiety
God says that we should trust him with our finances but that doesn’t mean we don’t create a budget. He tells us that He will always be with us, but that doesn’t mean we should haphazardly walk through a terrible area of town. Likewise, there are practical things we can do, and avoid when it comes to anxiety.
Please note, there are many reasons for anxiety and sometimes professional help and medication is the best answer. What I’ve found is that I need to know what I’m trusting God for, and therefore thinking through and journaling about it helps.
In our next blog, we are going to go through two tools. A simple breathing exercise and what is called cognitive restructuring which is closely linked to journaling but with a focus on dealing with the anxiety of the moment. Look for this blog on Thursday, November 1st
Let us know your thoughts; does this subject resonate with you? Have you felt guilty because of anxiety? What has helped you to overcome your anxiety? We want to hear what you have to say!
Is Anxiety a Sin? by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://nymensministry.com/2012/10/30/is-anxiety-a-sin/.