Christian Anxiety. That should be an oxymoron, right?
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
“Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)
Fear not. Do not be dismayed. Be anxious for nothing.
Those are the directives. You are a Christian. You want to obey.
So, why then, are you still afraid?
Well, maybe it’s because when life falls apart, the people you love fail you, or it feels like you’re under attack, the world still feels scary. No matter who you are or what you believe. Even when you know where your hope lies, it can still take a toll.
Anxiety often comes with human territory. And some of us have it worse than others.
Is Christian Anxiety a thing? Yes, good Christians can get anxious
All Christians struggle and suffer. It’s important to grasp that we were created with nervous systems designed to respond to the trials and traumas of life. Your responses simply may have shifted into overdrive. To hide them, deny them, or question your own faith simply creates a cycle of shame you don’t have to endure.
Your frustration with the power that anxiety has in your life is shared by many Christians. They too, feel burdened by the way fear and worry interferes with everyday life. You are not alone in feeling that your perpetual upset seems to keep you at odds with a divine command to live without fear.
But before you judge yourself too harshly, remember this: God knows your fear, that’s why he addresses it biblically more than 365 times. Every day you can read how normal you are for needing help and reassurance and how much he wants to comfort you.
Your anxiety is a shared struggle, not a shameful secret
Alright, so now you know that anxiety is not uncommon, but you likely wonder what it says about the quality of your faith. You’re not alone here, either. Too often, Christians amplify their worries by hiding their fear from each other and berating themselves for failing to be fearless.
It is vital that you understand that persistent anxiety is not wholly a spiritual matter. But many Christians get hung up here, believing that anxiety is unacceptable for faithful members of the flock. The implication for anxiety sufferers is that deliverance and relief are withheld from “bad Christians.”
But that isn’t true.
You also needn’t believe the voice in your head or those few whispering in the church that you are a bad Christian for wanting and needing professional help.
Again, over 365 times in the scriptures the “fear not” command occurs, not because God wants to remind you to keep plugging away unsuccessfully, or pretending dishonestly, to be above the worry. He is lovingly letting you now that he wants you to seek his comfort and power.
The process of “good Christian-ness” we’re expected to undertake is prayer, gratitude, and honest requests. What qualifies you as a faithful Christian is that you are a willing participant in the process of engaging the resources he’s provided that help you fulfill that process: whether that means spiritual, counseling, or medical support (according to how he’s leading YOU, since all believers have a personal walk with him).
Take a deep breath. Face the fear. You needn’t slink away in shame or self-recrimination. Anxiety-ridden moments are the moments built for seeking God and God-honoring counsel.
That’s all a “good Christian” is called to do.
Your anxiety does not disqualify you, it solidifies your relationship with God
The reality? Panic feels destabilizing. Abuse hurts. Grief changes you. And memories can keep you stuck.
Too often, being a Christian makes us hope against the process of healing.
We want God to grant an immediate miracle of relief, or we get upset with ourselves when fear won’t go away just because we tell it to.
(Now, to be clear, YES God can and does do instant work sometimes! I know because I’ve experienced it.)
However, he also gave us emotions and nervous systems, and sometimes he grows us through a longer process. Anxiety (and anxiety disorders) can be an octopus of messy feelings, buried fear, future worries, and unsubstantiated upset that requires real, repetitive, cooperative work.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, despite what we tell ourselves. The “be anxious for nothing” verse provides direction that shines a light on our Christian responsibility:
” …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 minds through Christ Jesus.”
What a relief! Why?
Because your being a good Christian isn’t reliant on being able to make yourself “fear not” on your own.
You cannot “fear not” without God. He says he will do the guarding and strengthening that is required. That’s not your job. No more than you could forgive yourself fully or save yourself completely.
“Be anxious about nothing” is not about forced fearlessness. It is a humble willingness to do the daily work. And then allowing him to do his redeeming work on your behalf.
However you come by your anxiety—trauma, heredity, or reasons unknown—you are not abnormal, disgraced, or unqualified to be who God called you to be.
Christians struggle internally and suffer sometimes. But you are allowed to acknowledge it and seek relief, in Jesus’ Name.
It would be my honor to help you along the way.