If you are struggling with severe anxiety, please seek a biblical counselor or professional help. I wrote this post to address the common anxiety that occurs due to the stresses of life.
For many years my perfectionist heart was stricken with anxiety – afraid to make decisions, stunned by failures, worried about pleasing people, and overwhelmed by my responsibilities. I remember thinking again and again: I will never be enough. My life can crumble at any second. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do it all. What if I don’t succeed or do what everyone expects of me?
Then, in God’s gracious sovereignty, a friend introduced me to Jesus and His Word.
In giving me salvation He gave me everything I needed. With my life secure in His hands, and as one of His chosen daughters, I gradually began to realize Paul’s statements in Philippians 4: “I have learned to be content, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I am by no means worry-free, but by the power of His grace I am becoming worried less. I know how combat the fear and silence doubts, even as motherhood tests me in this area more and more.
During the last few years of my walk with Him, I’ve seen incredible change in my heart as His Spirit sanctifies me to trust Him even when life crashes to halt.
And you know what? That can be the same for you. He offers the same hope to all who come to Him. Once we believe, His Word encourages us to let go of worry with the following 5 strategies.
These wonderful principles are explained further in my latest resource for women – Pursuing His Peace: A Bible Study for Freedom From Anxiety.
1. Build Strong Theology
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
To trust the Lord instead of worry, we have to know who He is – and my is He a marvelous God! The key to not fearing and not becoming overwhelmed by our problems is studying His steadfast love and faithfulness. His Word proves His trustworthiness to us time and time again.
The God of Scripture is merciful, compassionate, committed, patient, all-powerful, among many other blessed qualities. He is set apart from us as the Holy One. He’s higher than us, and thus the One who can handle anything we bring to Him.
The more we grasp the Gospel and His redemptive plan, the more we see why we can entrust Him with everything.
Having a correct view of God according to Scripture calms our confused hearts and resets our thinking. This is pivotal when our minds are disillusioned by what we see or the lies of the world.
Our God died on the cross to give us life. Our God can do the impossible. Our God works out eternal good even from the greatest evil. Our God uses every single thing to make us and others like His Son Jesus. When we absorb these biblical truths, His Spirit empowers us to flourish rather than flounder in life’s storms.
As we come to know God as our Rock and our Redeemer, the less the world’s waves will shake us.
So keep at the Word, friend. Even when you don’t “feel” like it, it’s building up a truth bank that saves you from despair.
2. Surrender in Prayer
You may have seen this verse countless times, but its truth rings ever true and its potential for healing ever real. In my experience, peace is always on the other side of on-your-knees, heart-pouring prayer.
“. . .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.”
If you think about what causes your anxiety, honestly ask yourself, have I prayed about it? And not just a quick one under my breath (though those are still good!), but a session where I share my every feeling and every need to Him? And do I do this not just once, but frequently in seasons of anxiety?
In addition to studying God’s Word, prayer is our lifeline. When we seek Him we can surrender our burdens and with our words come before His throne of grace.
When we’re anxious, we should go to Him not only with a plea for help or for wisdom, but with a desire for forgiveness for our lack of trust and to see His glory shine in our weakness.
In prayer we can stand before Him in thankfulness for Jesus and be refreshed by His grace, unloading our soul to our Heavenly Father until it hands the problem over to His hands.
We present our requests, knowing He listens and cares and will answer what matters most. This may mean empowering us to let go of our idols, temporary desires for comfort, or fleeting dreams, so He can deepen our relationship with Him and advance His Heavenly Kingdom.
As we grow in knowledge of His flawless character, we can turn to Him with deeper and deeper certainty and childlike dependence in prayer, giving relief to our mind.
3. Treasure Heaven
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Anxiety can well up strong when we’ve lost sight of eternity. We experience a sort of spiritual “myopia” – in which we cannot seen beyond the the present. We lose ourselves in the dilemmas of today and tomorrow, instead of finding strength in Christ’s promises of heaven.
God’s Word, and specifically Jesus Himself, encourages us over and over to seek His everlasting Kingdom rather than become wrapped up in what will soon fade away.
By focusing on loving the Lord, serving Him, and storing up treasures in heaven, our heart becomes less discouraged and vexed by worldly worries and more confident in God’s coming glory.
4. Nurture Humility
“All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
This is the most underestimated weapon against anxiety – a heart in awe over God’s grandness. A heart that relinquishes pride and rests in God’s power finds rest like no other. Much anxiety stems for our need for control, but when we submit to the One who truly has all control, we find the peace we’ve long been looking for.
We draw near to God and He draws near to us when we lose ourselves in the glory of His majesty. When we face any daunting challenge or struggle, we can place ourselves under His loving authority and watch Him work good beyond what we imagined.
5. Fixate on Christ
As I grew up (even as a non-believer) I remember coming across WWJD? or What would Jesus do? This question stills strikes a cord with me. And it makes me think of another question: Who is Jesus, and what has He done? It closely relates to the point of strong theology, because if I choose to meditate on the Person of Jesus my worries soon lose steam.
“[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. . .”
This is closely related to point one of gaining sound theology, because as I read the New Testament the heart and glory of Jesus shine hope and prompt me to follow the lead of my Good Shepherd.
Just reviewing the character of Christ – that he never hurried, never complained, never wavered, never worried, never withheld goodness, and that He loved without limit and loved to the very end. . . (John 13:1)
Just remembering the cross of Christ – that He suffered and so knows my suffering to the infinite degree of shedding His blood and absorbing the unthinkable wrath against my sin utterly alone. . .
Just knowing the blessings of Christ – that He is one with me and I with Him, that I am a new and in-dwelt by the Spirit and that nothing can stand against Him and His work in my life and the world. . .
Such things answer my anxiety.