Are you an anxious Christian? If so you’re not alone! The topic of anxiety and Christians bring up so many questions. Are you wondering if anxiety is a lack of faith? Does prayer help anxiety? What does God say about worry and fear? Is anxiety a sin? How do you overcome worry and fear and live by faith?
All are really great questions that I’m going to address in this article. But first, let’s pin point anxiety – just to be sure we’re talking about the same thing.
Christians and Anxiety | What is it?
If you look up anxiety in the dictionary, it’s synonyms are fear, certainty, worry and nervousness. Can you relate to that so far? I know I can.
Anxiety is worry or fear that gets in the way of doing life. It is an inability to concentrate or think about things other than the source of worry. You may also have a hard time sleeping. Anxiety can show up in physical ways like heart palpitations, sweating or trembling, too. Consequently, if you’re struggling with anxiety, it can feel like peace is always out of reach.
As you read on, consider anxiety on a spectrum rather than thinking in terms of all or nothing.
So where does anxiety come from? Research indicates a couple main origins. First, some believe anxiety comes from a chemical imbalance that gets passed down… genetics. Others believe family history plays a big part. You know, like learned patterns.
I don’t want to spend time picking apart either theory because both are pretty much out of our hands, right? You don’t get to pick your family. Furthermore, you don’t get to pick your brain chemicals either.
Regardless of the origin, anxiety begins with our thoughts. Now we’re talking about something in our control – our anxious thoughts. Get the complete course to “Taking Your Thoughts Captive”.
Christians and Anxiety | The Cycle
It all begins with a thought. Our thoughts are really powerful. More powerful than we give credit. Thoughts usually begin as seemingly insignificant and fleeting, but easily (and quickly) grow.
Our thoughts drive our emotions and behaviors. What started as a simple thought becomes problematic and distressing as we attach more meaning to the thought. Once we begin attaching more meaning to the thought, we become more attached to the thought. Now the thought is like a bad song looping in our heads. This is where the thought goes from momentary to obsessive (or anywhere in between).
As the thoughts grow and increase, so do the emotions. As a result, anxiety, fear and worry grow until it feels overwhelming or unmanageable.
Once we feel are overwhelmed, we try to relieve it by doing something to bring the anxiety level down.
Next, we take action to manage anxiety. Unfortunately, sometimes the action becomes destructive (like controlling behavior). Consequently, it’s only a quick win. Which means, we will constantly be working to achieve peace if we don’t change the thought.
Is anxiety a lack of faith?
First, let’s jump back to earlier in the article. Causes of anxiety point to brain chemistry and upbringing. When discussing Christians and anxiety, there is a tendency to ask, “Is anxiety a lack of faith?” Why don’t we ask that question of someone with diabetes or a broken leg? Why are we treating Christians and anxiety differently?
Furthermore, when we ask, “Is anxiety a lack of faith?”, it implies that faith is like a light switch. It can simply be flipped… faith turns on and anxiety turns off. It’s just not that simple.
Yet, there are spiritual components to anxiety. Anxiety, is in fact, rooted in fear. Anxiety, worry, fear, uncertainty – whatever you call it, it’s an emotion. If we know God uses all things for our good (Romans 8:28), then that includes emotions.
Those emotions are a red flag to something bigger – our thoughts (or heart). What are you thinking about? Your thoughts come from what you believe about your world, yourself and God).
Every. Single. Person. Deals with fear. This does not surprise God or leave Him frustrated with you. Use the fear, anxiety and worry to peel back the layers of what you believe and think.
Is anxiety sin?
Christians with and without anxiety ask this question often. However, I don’t like this question because it becomes a springboard for shame and condemnation. When discussing Christians and anxiety, the more productive question is… “What are you anxious about?” Go deeper by processing the thoughts and beliefs behind the emotions.
This gets us moving toward healing, rather than shaming. We have to go deeper than, “Is anxiety a sin?”. Be purposeful in peeling back the layers.
Does praying help anxiety?
Yes! First Peter 5:7 specifically tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God wants to be in relationship with you. When you’re in a close relationship with someone you have to actually communicate. Prayer is communication with God!
When dealing with anxiety we tend to ruminate on one thing, evoking more and more fear. It’s literally fear looping in your mind. It’s one of the first habits I teach Christians how to break when doing counseling.
What does God say about fear and worry?
I have to say it again… feeling anxious, fearful, worried or uncertain doesn’t surprise God. He knows our heart before we say or do anything (Psalm 139:4). Certainly, He knew fear would be common to mankind because the Bible speaks to Christians and anxiety, extensively.
Let’s take a peek at some popular Bible verses about anxiety so we know what God says about fear and worry.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14:27
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4:13
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. ~Isaiah 26:3
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ~Isaiah 41:13
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. ~Psalm 56:3
For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” ~Hebrews 13:5b-6
How do you overcome worry and fear and live by faith?
An entire book couldn’t cover this one question! There are so many strategies and testimonies that share how to overcome worry and fear and live by faith. We know faith is believing God’s Word and acting on it. The Christian life is one that continues to move forward, growing in grace. Stay close to God through prayer and Bible study and you will see your life transformed day by day.
Can God take away your anxiety in a moment? Yes. But more often He shows Himself faithful in the midst of the anxiety we face. Moment by moment and day by day He enables us to live by faith. This process is life long. Take the above Bible verses and ask yourself 2 questions with each verse.
- What does this verse say about God?
- How can I practically apply this to my life?
Christians and Anxiety|Final Thoughts
Christians are not immune to anxiety, however they do have an advantage. The Bible is full of promises that we can believe and act upon.
If you are a Christian and have anxiety, leave a comment, sharing testimonies and practical ways to overcome fear and worry…It will be an encouragement to other readers.
If you know an anxious Christian, share this article!
If you struggle with anxiety and would like some personalized help to battle anxiety more effectively, check out online Christian Counseling.