"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Matthew 6: 27
When we peel everything back we realise that anxiety comes as a result of the fact that we sometimes, or most of the time, do not feel in control of our own lives. The reality is that God is ultimately sovereign yet we spend our lives trying to prove that we can take the wheel without crashing the car. But as we take the wheel and take charge of every aspect of our lives, trying to balance every spinning plate, while also carrying the weight of all things on our own shoulders, the anxiety, the depression, the inadequacy mount up. And even for those who succeed in controlling their lives, they find that in the end the happiness and security they worked so hard for isn't real, or at least it doesn't last.
Today over 275 million people suffer with anxiety disorders, depression is a top cause of death and suicide is on the rise.
We are an anxious generation.
"Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.' Isaiah 35:4
Because a lot of anxiety stems from our desire to be the gods of our own lives, anxiety is intensely spiritual and to deal with it, to overcome it, we need to recognise the causes and allow the Holy Spirit to heal and transform us.
ONE: You don't really trust that God is for you
In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read:
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.'
The truth is that our lives are in the hands of God and He is a REALLY awesome God. Yes, we live in a broken world, which means we WILL face challenges, but God makes all things good for those who love Him. This is one of His promises to us that He never breaks. Though sometimes it may look like He has abandoned us, He is always in the background working to turn things around for our good. No matter what we go through God's goodness surrounds us, His protection is over us and He is unfailingly faithful.
Someone who doesn't trust God will be anxious often as their future will seem uncertain and the unknown scary.
Someone who does trust God will be steadfast in their faith, unshakeable and, though they may feel anxious at times, they do not let the anxiety remain as they go back to the core truth of God's sovereignty and they know that they can trust Him.
TWO: You still think that you are the god of your own life
In Isaiah 46:9 we read:
'Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.'
We are not God. There is no one like God. He is the most powerful, most intelligent, most loving, most just and most secure being in the Universe. We are nothing without Him. Yet we try to convince ourselves that we can 'do it all'. We are too proud to ask for help from others because that will prove that we are weak and in need. We think that if we can conquer our battles with our own weapons and strength that that will show that we are significant and valuable and impressive. Yet we are killing ourselves by carrying the burdens only God can carry and trying to go through life without relying on the One who created all things and knows exactly what we need. We are fighting blind!
Someone who thinks they are the god of their own life will refuse to surrender when they feel stressed or anxious and will try with all their might to conquer their battles in their own strength, most often leading to a greater amount of anxiety and possibly subsequent health issues.
Someone who knows that there is only one God and that they submit their lives to Him, will not try to carry their own burdens and will learn to surrender the things that make them feel stressed and anxious, leading them to feel more at peace and live freely.
THREE: Your identity is not fully rooted in Christ
In Galatians 2:20 we read:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
If our identity and worth is in our status, achievements and reputation then we are bound to become anxious when things are not going swimmingly well. The moment someone things poorly of us because we make a mistake (which we all do), or we lose our job, or don't get that promotion, or our children rebel, we will feel incredibly unworthy and our lives will feel like chaos, leading to anxiety. But if our identity is in Christ, rooted in the fact that He has died for us and has defeated death, and that God's great plan is being rolled out with Christ at the centre and us a part of it, then we will not be shaken when the world disappoints us.
Someone who does not have a strong identity in Christ will find value in the things of the world which will inevitably disappoint and lead to anxiety.
Someone who has a strong identity in Christ will know their worth is not dependent on what they achieve or do and they will not be so heavily impacted by disappointment.
FOUR: You're living for now, not eternity
We read in Colossians 3:1-4:
'“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.'
This earth is not our home. We aren't meant to build our empires here. Often when we do try to build empires we simultaneously trade our inheritance in heaven (which will last waaaayyy longer than what we build on the earth. We get so caught up gathering earthly treasures and trying to find happiness when God never intended us or designed us to be satisfied outside of a relationship with Him. He actually created us to be wholly satisfied by Him ALONE, even if we had nothing else. When we live for eternity we have our eyes set on the joy before us, just like Jesus did when He endured the hardship of the cross. Our expectations are in the promises of God, not in the things that man can give us, which inevitably disappoint.
Someone who lives for now feels a lot of anxiety when things don't go their way or unforeseen things happen because they feel like time is running out for them to find the happiness and security that can only be found in Christ.
Someone who lives for eternity knows that this world is broken and will not be fixed until Jesus comes back. They know that tears and pain is inevitable but by being faithful through the trials they are building up their inheritance. They do not let themselves stay anxious but they praise the Lord through the hard times and keep their hearts on things above.
If you struggle with anxiety and have been trying so many things but still feel ensnared by it, you are not alone. I would love to journey with you to explore the ways in which a deeper faith in Christ could help to free you from some of that crippling anxiety. The Gritty Faith course would be prefect as it equips women with a more resilient faith. Or our five-day challenges are excellent for growing in specific areas of your life, and preparing your soul to live freely and fruitfully in Christ.
Reach out in the comments. I would love to know more about your experience with anxiety.