Christian struggle with anxiety just like anyone else does. This post addresses the question of how should Christians respond to anxiety and more importantly how to overcome anxiety and depression.
This secret monster rears it’s ugly head when we least expect it. I’m not the first Christian to have struggled with anxiety and I certainly won’t be the last. Yet, there is such a negative stigma within the church about anxiety and depression. So many struggle with anxiety but only repress their fears because they feel shame or guilt. Here I hope to articulate what anxiety is, who it affects, and how to find biblical anxiety relief.
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How to Overcome Anxiety & Worry as a Christian
Five years ago I went through a series of difficult circumstances, compounded with a difficult surgery and recovery. As a result, I went through a horrible experience with anxiety to the point that my heart would race and I had terrible insomnia. Experiencing these physical side effects made me realize that it was time I fully dealt with this all-consuming emotion. My usual coping mechanisms of distraction and repression were only making matters worse.
Anxiety Disorders and the Church
Without a doubt, there is a mental health stigma in the church. Within the Christian realm, anxiety and depression are often not discussed, however, they are one of the most prevalent struggles for Christians today. Not that long ago, I sat around my Bible study group of several strong, seemingly unshakable women and shared about my past issues with worry and anxiety. To my dismay, over half the women in the group admitted to having major struggles with anxiety and most of those women had experienced anxiety attacks. If you struggle with anxiety, know that you are not alone.
Spiritual Help for Anxiety: God and Anxiety Disorders
Often we look at “worry” as something we just all do. It is assumed that every good mother worries. However, the Bible clearly states “Do NOT worry”. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy and when we downplay this struggle, it easily spirals out of control.
Fear is not a sin but we don’t want to let it go unchecked. As Priscilla Shirer says in her book, Fervent, “It is ok to feel fear but do not wallow in it. Do not entertain it, engage it, or make friends with it in any form.”
At the very least, it will rob you of the blessings God wants you to enjoy and a steady mindset that allows you to be open to the God-given opportunities around you. When you allow stress and worry to go unchecked, it will inevitably snowball into something much worse.
Steps for Treating Anxiety
- Tell Someone – When I struggled two years ago, I summoned the courage to share about it in a Bible study group for moms. Although my description was very vague and watered-down, another young mom in the group came to me afterward and shared she was struggling with the exact same thing. Katy suggested that whenever we each felt anxious we could stop and pray for one another. So we did just that. She also sent me a list of verses that she had written out on cards that were especially helpful to her. She explained that when an anxious thought came on, she would stop and recite one of the verses on the list. (I’ve included the list she emailed me below.)
- Tell An Expert – You cannot access your own mental/spiritual state so it is important to talk to an expert. When I struggled five years ago, I went to a counselor regularly and saw my doctor. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help and in most cases, it’s a necessary and God-ordained path to get better
- Overwhelm Your Anxious Thoughts with God’s Truth -“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthian 10:5) Isn’t it amazing that through God’s Word we take captive every anxious thought and make it obedient to Him? We don’t just harness our worries, but God completely transforms our anxious thoughts into thoughts that honor Him.
Should Christians Take Antidepressants?
Blake Jennings, one of our teaching pastors at church did an outstanding sermon series on depression and anxiety below. He was very brave to include details of his personal struggle with depression. He explained that in dealing with anxiety or depression, they are each a spiritual AND physical issue. Therefore, you should seek spiritual and physical help. Watch the videos below to see what he says in detail.
How to Deal with Overwhelming Anxiety or Depression
These are two of the best sermons I have ever heard and you won’t regret taking the time to listen.
Sermon on Fear and Anxiety:
Sermon on Depression:
Overcoming Anxiety with God
Researchers have found that when we have a thought, it makes a neurological connection in our brain. When we think the same thought over and over again, the connection becomes deeper much like a trench that is widened with every swipe of a bulldozer. With every repetition of the same thought, that neurological connection is stronger, especially if the thought is connected to an emotion. Therefore, problems arise when the thought is associated with fear or anxiety.
Root Cause of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
When we worry, we think the same anxious thought over and over and the trench is made ever deeper in our brain. With each repeating thought, the fear becomes more consuming as this thought is more prevalent and easily accessed. Before we know it, a small worry can snowball into tremendous fear as this connection is already augmented in our brain. This is why worry can be so difficult to overcome and why a very small (almost undetectable) thought can result in a panic attack. Therefore, small worries can quickly become overwhelming if this process isn’t stopped and reversed.
To remedy this problem, psychologists suggest thinking a positive thought every time the initial worry comes to mind. This will work eventually but you have to have a positive thought for every negative thought to undo this neurological connection and “backfill the trench” completely. For professional worriers like myself, this could take a while. However, God gave us a much more powerful short cut!
How to Use the Bible to Overcome Anxiety
God’s Word is so powerful that it is exponentially more effective than mere positive thinking. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
How to Get Out of Worry Mode
When we confront fearful thoughts with God’s Word regularly, it refills this trench much more quickly and completely than mere positive thinking. If positive thinking alone is a wheelbarrow, think of God’s Word as a backhoe that has exponential power over refilling our negative thought processes. Before we know it, our negative thought pathways are completely filled with the truth of God’s Word, making room for His peace.
How to Deal with Overwhelming Anxiety
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthian 10:5) Isn’t it amazing that through God’s Word we take captive every anxious thought and make it obedient to Him? We don’t just harness our worries, but God completely transforms our anxious thoughts into thoughts that honor Him.
Know that God will make a miraculous way out of worry, anxiety, or depression that is perfectly timed and planned by Him.
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, for those He has called according to His Purposes.” Romans 8:28
“What if I Never Get Better?”
This is the most common question for people struggling with fear and anxiety. But know that in God’s Word when He talks about your battles, He talks about them in the past tense – as battles He has already won! Remember God has already had victory in this.
Know that God will deliver you for His goodness and the sake of His name: “No one who hopes in your will ever be put to shame. “Psalm 25:3
DO NOT cement yourself in your struggle but affirm the permanence of the love of God..and be thankful!
Remember that God so loved (your name here) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
How A Grateful Heart Can Combat Fear and Anxiety
As I mentioned before, I am not advocating the power of positive thinking but an appreciation of what God has already given us. Sometimes you hear someone say “I’m just calling it how I see it” before sharing a negative comment. But instead, we need to “call it as God sees it”. When we can see our lives and troubles through the lens of God’s Truth and Scripture, we come to realize that we have nothing to fear as we are being held in the tight grip of the Creator of the universe.
So how do you do this? We can meet worries with thanksgiving before they have an opportunity to infiltrate our thinking. As Steven Furtick says in his book, Crashing the Chatterbox, “The attacks of discouragement will not stop coming, but if they are met with praise at the city gate they will be denied entrance.”
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Don’t let the discouragement of what you are going through make you forget the benefits of belonging to a God who has been so good to you. He has saved you, blessed you, forgiven you, restored you, satisfied you, renewed you, healed you, and crowned you!
My 3 Favorite Books to Overcome Anxiety and Fear:
This is my absolute favorite book on anxiety and depression. It has been a game-changer for me!
In a world that preaches a “try harder” gospel―just keep going, keep hustling, keep pretending we’re all fine―we’re left exhausted, overwhelmed, and so numb to our lives. If we’re honest, we’ve been over-functioning for so long, we can’t even imagine another way. How else will things get done? How else will we survive?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Aundi Kolber believes that we don’t have to white-knuckle our way through life. In her debut book, Try Softer, she’ll show us how God specifically designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories and work through obstacles. Through the latest psychology, practical clinical exercises, and her own personal story, Aundi equips and empowers us to connect us to our truest self and truly live. This is the “try softer” life.
In Try Softer, you’ll learn how to:
- Know and set emotional and relational boundaries
- Make sense of the difficult experiences you’ve had
- Identify your attachment style―and how that affects your relationships today
- Move through emotions rather than get stuck by them
- Grow in self-compassion and talk back to your inner critic
Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.
You have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted.
So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer. With a weapon that really works. Each chapter will guide you in crafting prayer strategies that hit the enemy where it hurts, letting him know you’re on to him and that you won’t back down. Because with every new strategy you build, you’re turning the fiercest battles of life into precise strikes against him.
When it comes to anxiety, depression, and stress-related illnesses, America is the frontrunner. Thankfully, there’s a practical prescription for dealing with these issues. Anxious for Nothing, from New York Times bestselling author, Max Lucado, provides a roadmap for battling with and healing from anxiety. Now in trade paper.
Does the uncertainty and chaos of life keep you up at night?
Is irrational worry your constant companion?
Could you use some calm?
If the answer is yes, you are not alone.
Stop letting anxiety rule the day. Join Max on the journey to true freedom and experience more joy, clarity, physical renewal, and contentment by the power of the Holy Spirit. Anxiety comes with life. But it doesn’t have to dominate your life.
Bible Verses About Anxiety and Depression
Here is the same list of verses my friend Katy gave me and I hope it helps you as well:
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
2 Timothy 1:7- For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.
Phil. 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
1 Thes. 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Exodus 14:14 – The Lord your God will fight for you, you need only to be still.
Bible Verse Cards for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression
Prayer for Peace from Anxiety and Depression
The verse that made the biggest impact in dealing with anxiety was Exodus 14:14, “The Lord your God will fight for you, you need only to be still. It made me realize that my only job was to sit at His feet and seek Him – that He would fight the battle for me. I prayed this verse over and over to help take control of my thoughts.
Remember that God is at work on a deeper level than you realize – teaching you to rely on His character and not your performance. This is not your battle and it is too big for you to handle on your own but He wants to carry you and fight FOR you!
- You are doing better than you think.
- This is less about you than you think.
- You matter much more than you think.
- Keep going. Don’t stop. Your efforts are NOT in vain.
How to Overcome Anxiety and Fear – Your Next Step:
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or both, here is your next step. Listen to the sermon I mentioned above. I promise you won’t regret it. Then, you need to tell someone about how you are struggling! Please know that you are not alone. Feel free to email me so I can pray for you at [email protected] Again, there is no shame in talking to a counselor, pastor, or medical expert. Often it is the bravest choice a person can make!
Overcome Anxiety by Max Lucado
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Welcome to Renovated Faith, where I share about DIY projects, my faith and everything in between! When I’m not spending time with my family, you will find me redoing furniture in the garage or watering plants in my greenhouse. This blog is about transformation. Anyone can renovate a house but only God can transform our hearts!