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By Danny Saavedra
A silent killer . . . anxiety is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of people in the United States.
Men and women across the country are wrestling with anxiety—precious people who bear the image of God who are struggling against the waves, trying to stay afloat and make it through the day. It’s not easy to be transparent, vulnerable, and open about something like this.
According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), right now “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.,” affecting around 40 million adults. That’s around 20% of people, chances are the number is higher than we realize. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 300 million people around the world have an anxiety disorder.
Knowing this, we thought it’d be helpful to address the topic of anxiety, approaching it for the most part from a biblical and theological perspective. But first, let’s address some frequently asked questions regarding anxiety.
According to Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Ron Hawkins in Biblical Counseling, “Anxiety is a constant fearful state, accompanied by a feeling of unrest, dread, or worry.” And one of the most difficult things about this, as Clinton and Hawkins point out, is that “the person may not be aware of what is creating the fear.”
While we know anxiety can be aroused by a number of factors, the truth is our understanding of the roots of anxiety disorders is very incomplete. The overall root of each person’s battles with anxiety are nuanced and unique. If you’re struggling right now and looking for answers, good biblical counseling is the best way to identify your specific root causes.
Some factors that are commonly tied to anxiety include:
Again, the underlying causes and triggers vary by person, with genetics and environmental factors often combining to make some people more susceptible to certain anxiety disorders. And truthfully, some of us simply have an overall chemical disposition making us more inclined to anxiety or depression.
Yes. It’s human nature. We don’t decide to get anxious—it just happens to us.
In Psalm 56:3 (NIV, emphasis added), David says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Notice how David said “when.” He didn’t say “If,” or “Just in case.” It’s natural for fear and anxiety to strike. And when it does, a battle for our heart and mind begins.
The Bible doesn’t assume we will never deal with anxiety. In fact, the reason we see verses frequently pop up reminding us to not be anxious is because God knew we would be prone to it. He knows we will battle anxiety for the entirety of our lives, most of us daily, many times throughout the day even, and that no matter how long we’ve been a disciple of Jesus, it would be something we would experience and battle against.
When we run into passages in the Word about anxiety, we shouldn’t be filled with guilt, self-condemnation, or anger. We should not say to ourselves, “I’m not a good Christian because I am struggling,” or “I must not have enough faith.” On the contrary, our heavenly Father uses these verses as an encouragement and a loving reminder that He is with us; that we can and must “cast all [our] anxiety on him because he cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV).
Knowing anxiety is a common and universal aspect of human life, experiencing it doesn’t always means it’s a reflection of a lack of faith. However, for most unbelievers, and even some believers, anxiety can be rooted in a lack of real faith in the truth and promises of God, in the security they have in Christ, and in their lack of trust in His will and purposes. In addition, when we don’t stay connected to the Word, when we’re not as consistent with real, genuine prayer, meditation, and quiet time, then we’ll be more prone to experiencing anxiety, to being short-tempered, irritable, impatient, and depressed.
Having said that, for many of us, anxiety doesn’t stem from a disconnect with the Lord. We can be committed to the Lord in every aspect of our lives and still battle constantly and at times even find ourselves paralyzed, suffering from panic attacks. If you need help assessing why you’re experiencing anxiety and some action steps to help you recover, click here.
Sadly, many people with anxiety disorders don’t get help for a variety of reasons. Some are unaware that something can be done. Some avoid getting help because they fear that dealing with anxiety or reaching out for help will be perceived as weakness. Some don’t get help because they believe anxiety is a sign of spiritual failure or they fear the stigma that’s associated with an anxiety disorder.
If that is you . . . If you’re struggling with anxiety and have not sought after help, know this: God has made us as relational beings. He wants us to bear our burdens together in community, in counseling, in prayer for one another, in His presence, and in His name. (Galatians 6:2). Call on Him. He is faithful to hear and answer you. You can pray your own prayer or you can pray this one right now:
Heavenly Father, today I am struggling—the one Your Son Jesus died for, the one You placed such a high value on, the one You bought with the blood of Jesus. I’m feeling the waves of anxiety crash into me in ways I can’t face alone. I want to serve You, enjoy You, and walk in the purposes and plans You have for me, Lord, but this anxiety is debilitating me to the point that I’m having trouble functioning. I need the healing touch of Your hand, precious Savior and Lord. I need Your wisdom and grace. I need Your healing presence and the comfort of Your Holy Spirit. Let the peace of Christ wash over me today. I am casting my anxieties upon You right now! Do what only You can do as I do the only thing I can do . . . focus on You. Thank You, Father. I trust You and know that even now You are moving and working and redeeming. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.