Seeking help in overcoming anxiety with God? Read on to read about my experience, and what helped me.
“I’m dying,” I remember thinking as I curled up on my bed, panting and struggling to catch my breath.
This was moments after hanging up the phone on a fellow sister in Christ. She had been challenging my mishandled approach to a situation at church. She was gentle and kind about it. But I couldn’t even make it through the conversation without losing control of my body.
It was a panic attack, but I didn’t realize it at the time. A combination of the symptoms I felt at various times over the years:
involuntary muscle tensing
rapid and shallow breathing
All due to anxiety.
My friend wasn’t in the wrong in how or what she was addressing. She was being a true friend by challenging me and helping me grow. It was the triggers of shame and a fear of conflict that set me off, and it was only one anxiety attack of many that my body would experience involuntarily.
Lord, please take away my anxiety.
I can remember praying this over and over. It happened more often in my journey as a mom; but came up often in my relationships, in the face of disagreements, or if I felt like I had failed or disappointed someone. (Which makes sense, for my people pleaser heart.)
It helps to identify anxiety for what it is – it’s a physiological reaction to a possible (but not immediate) negative outcome or threat.
Basically your body reacts as if you’re being threatened. But it’s a threat that’s in your mind, not one right in front of you.
It’s like the “fight or flight” response to a positive or negative situation. But anxiety makes us feel like we’re constantly in this mode, as if we’re always in battle mode.
It’s exhausting. And it can be an occasional thing, or it can be chronic.
How do anxiety and faith affect each other?
There are plenty of things in the world that can make us anxious. But on a spiritual level, it affects us, too. Spirituality and mental health are not exclusive of each other.
Anxiety and your view of God
For so long, I believed lies about God – one being that he was constantly disappointed in me and my character. This left me in a state of anxiety about where I stood with him.
I also was anxious about my anxiety. I would ask questions like: Is anxiety a sin? Is anxiety a punishment from God? (By the way, I strongly believe the answer to both is a resounding NO.)
Anxiety at church
Sometimes relationships or interactions can make me feel anxious, and since my church community is closest to me, it happens there. Often to do with me and my perception of the situation and myself. (See the above example.)
It would get to the point that I would avoid conversations and others, which didn’t fix the problem, but only left me more anxious about our next interactions.
How do we go about overcoming anxiety with God?
How can faith help anxiety?
My faith has been what has gotten me through anxiety in so many ways. There are many things in this world that can make us anxious, and God is the only source of true relief.
That’s not to say it’s simple – “just say a prayer, and you’re healed!” Like anything, it’s with practice and consistency, plus digging deep, that we can find lasting healing.
Through scripture and truth
God’s promises can help us see past our immediate fears and worries. They can set those thoughts in their place, and remind us of the power, goodness, and love of our Heavenly Father.
It’s amazing what happens when we are “firmly established in the truth” (2 Peter 1:12). The Bible even says that we can “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Anxiety does not have to be in control. It doesn’t have to win.
Here are some of the most helpful scriptures for anxiety, ones that have been helpful for me:
For when you feel overwhelmed:
Lamentations 3:22-23 : Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
For when you are afraid:
Psalm 34:4-5 : I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Read the whole chapter! So good.
For when you feel hopeless:
Psalm 103:8-12 : The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
For when you feel distant from God:
Romans 8:38-39 : For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Again, read the whole chapter for maximum encouragement!
Prayer is an unexpected gift from God. Of course, he loves to connect with us, and it builds our relationship with him. But it also helps our mindsets infinitely – it gives us the chance to align our hearts and perspectives with his. In the battle against our own minds, this is crucial.
It’s not a quick fix; it’s a journey. The more you keep going back to God in prayer, the more confident you feel moving forward.
The best examples I can give of heart-changing and anxiety-overcoming prayer is in Psalms. Again and again, David shows us an example of coming to God with a heavy or fearful heart, and leaving with restored faith and hope.
Check out these psalms about overcoming anxiety: Psalm 3, Psalm 6, Psalm 13, Psalm 16, Psalm 18, and then go through and find so many more.
How do I pray for healing anxiety? If you don’t know what to say, start by praying through one of these Psalms. You can say the exact words with your own heart behind it, or use those words to prompt your own words.
Even sitting quietly with God makes its impact, as the Spirit speaks for us when we don’t know what to say (Romans 8:26).
Through godly and biblical help
There are many reasons it’s important to have godly relationships in your life. They can help you seek truth, give advice and comfort, and work with you to come up with a plan to find healing.
Also, Christian counseling is a great option. Entering into biblical life coaching was a transformative experience for me. (You can read more about my experience here.) It helped me confront lies about God and myself with biblical truth.
Through faithful steps towards remedies
The most encouraging things about anxiety are that we don’t go through it alone, and that there are many ways to help alleviate it. It can feel intimidating to pursue help with our anxiety, but God provides the resources so we can find relief, and the faith to pursue them.
Since anxiety is a physical issue, sometimes you need to treat it with physical remedies – like medicines, supplements, exercise, or psychological counseling. Please – if you are experiencing chronic or serious anxiety symptoms or panic attacks, talk to a professional and get help with managing it.
Can God use your anxiety for good?
How much can you shine as a light by being able to comfort others, relate to them, and help them find healing from anxiety? How much closer will it bring you to God to rely on him in this season? God can redeem all things our lives and use them as part of his purpose and plan for us.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently or that anxiety has to stay constant in your life. Again, if you struggle with chronic anxiety, please get help. God wants to see you well and living life to the full in him (John 10:10).
Remember that God “works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28) and that “he has plans to prosper you and not to harm you” (Jeremiah 29:11). Please know he wants to see you well and use you for great purposes.
How about you?
What experience have you had in overcoming anxiety with God? How has he helped you find healing?
For everyday encouragement, visit my Instagram @whatyoumakeitblog.
More Resources for Anxiety and Faith
10 Weeks in 2018, My Soul Wept (part 1 of 3)