I struggle with anxiety pretty regularly. I don’t mean that I worry about things often. Well, I do that, too. But when I say that I struggle with anxiety, I’m talking about something so much more than worrying — my anxiety doesn’t make sense.
Some days I skip out on planned events because just thinking about going out, even with people I know well, overwhelms me. Anxiety even affects my view on Christ’s love for me on occasion. Those days are actually the worst.
I know anxiety is a messy subject especially in the church and I know there’s a lot of debate about the root of anxiety and whether or not it’s okay to experience anxiety as a believer. Regardless of the debate surrounding the subject, what I think is the most important thing to recognize is that anxiety, as well as many other types of suffering, is a direct result of a fallen, sinful world.
If we take a second to remember that before addressing a brother and sister in Christ, we can come from a place of love and compassion rather than from a place of correction and judgment. So I want to take a moment to talk about how you can encourage a brother or sister through their bad, anxiety-filled days because I think it’s important.
I can’t speak for everyone who experiences anxiety on a regular basis because everyone’s experiences are different, but I hope these thoughts can help provide a different perspective.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Philippians 4:6
This is probably the most common scripture used to encourage those who are struggling and there is beautiful, comforting truth there.
As someone who regularly struggles with anxiety, I will always appreciate friends who want to comfort me and point me toward Jesus in the middle of my struggles. I mean, that’s what true community looks like!
But the last thing I need to hear while I’m feeling anxious is “Don’t be anxious” or “Don’t worry so much.” That creates guilt for being anxious which just brings on more anxiety. It’s a slippery slope.
Philippians 4:6 clearly says not to be anxious, but what I fear is that too many people focus on the first part of that verse.
The thought process goes something like this: “Well, the bible says not to be anxious so you shouldn’t be anxious.” Which is true, but there’s so much more to it.
What truly needs to be highlighted — what I need to hear the most on my bad days — is the reason why we don’t need to be anxious.
I need to hear assurances of grace, declarations of God’s identity and declarations of our identity in Him.
Verses like Hosea 6:3, “Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land,” or Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments,” make Philippians 4:6 even sweeter.
Because of the truths proclaimed in those two verses (and many others), I know that I have no need to be anxious because our God is a faithful, consistent God!
I say all of this to say that if a brother or sister in Christ opens up about their anxiety, try focusing on the assurances found in scripture rather than just saying “Don’t be anxious.”
Try finding promises in scripture that will shine light on the lies that come with anxiety to supplement Philippians 4:6, because those promises will help build the “peace of God” talked about in the following verse.
In patience, continue to point us towards God and His unchanging character and love. We’ll appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.
Come back each week to read more Liftable Devotions.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.