Fighting Anxiety

Anxiety is a serious topic for Christians today. Anxiety comes from a variety of factors including money, time, commitments, thoughts, relationships, and even Church. I remember becoming a Christian and thinking that everyone was perfect from that point forward, guess again. As a young adult in Church I felt overwhelmed working 50 hrs/week, taking night classes for Seminary, and volunteering 10 hrs/week at Church. I didn’t always deal with the anxiety well, but as I continue to fight the good fight of faith I want to train myself for the next battle with anxiety. As Christians, let’s start our training by defining anxiety Biblically.

First, Define the Problem Biblically. Anxiety can be defined by the Greek term merimnao, which is translated anxious, concerned, worried, worry, and worrying (Mt. 6:25; Lk. 10:41; Phil. 4:6; 1 Cor. 7:32). We also associate worry to the idea of fear, which can be defined by the Greek word phobos (from which we derive the English word ‘phobia’), which is translated as fear, dread, or terror (Pr. 1:7; Ecc. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; Mt. 10:26; Job; 41:33; Prov. 22:3). When we speak about anxiety it is clear that we are covering a large area of emotions.

Second, Look at Biblical Manifestations. Anxiety and fear (i.e. worrying) is manifested in Scripture through many people. Ultimately, the examples show the internal battles of man. The inner man can feel disturbed and agitated as we see in Ps. 42:3 “My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalms 42:3 shows anxiety manifesting into crying as a result of others mocking the authors circumstances. I’m sure all of us can relate to other people causing anxiety in our lives and making us feel unsettled inside. It is when the inner unsettling manifests outwardly, that we spiral down a path of spiritual decay. Anxiety and fear can even manifest outwardly through heart attacks, hyperthyroidism, mitral valve prolapse, pheochromocy-toma, and drug related problems (See The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference). The outer manifestations can have spells of depression and bad health (i.e. nervous energy, body aches, sleeplessness), as we see in Prov. 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down.”

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.

Proverbs 12:25

The outward manifestations of anxiety can even create a compromised immune system that doesn’t heal or recover as quickly; which is why David said his sin caused such anxiousness that his “body wasted away…My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Ps. 32:2-4). The external manifestation of fearing man can make someone think their physical life is under distress (Mt. 10:28; Gal. 1:10). Even the manifestation of depending on your own performance for contentment can cause fear and anxiety (Mt. 6:33-34; Phil. 4:6-10). Relying on your own intelligence for answers can cause fear and anxiety (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). Having idolatry and un-repentant sin can cause fear and anxiety (Ps. 32; 51). Long periods of anxiety can even manifest with the heart and cause you to be at risk of palpitations and disease. We should all agree that anxiety, stress, worry, and fear start internally and can cause external manifestations that no one wants. So how do we strategize proactively to fight our anxiety?

Scripture will help us to turn anxiety to dependence on God.

Third, Strategize Ahead with Biblical Remedies. There are many Biblical methods that God gives us to prepare for our battles with anxiety.

1, Memorize Scripture and listen to sermons. Remember Prov. 12:25, the second part of the verse gives us the remedy to stop being ‘weighed down’, which says “But a good word makes it glad.” Memorizing Scripture will turn anxiety to gladness and dependence on God in the moment. Scripture memorization also lets you make subjective emotions slaves through the lens of objective truth. We must not let our emotions control us like a master. As someone once said, ’emotions make good slaves, but poor masters; Scripture can help us recall that truth. For instance, Christ taught us to not be anxious but seek His righteousness by pursuing good works and behavior (Matt. 6:25-34). So be proactive in the fight. Also, listening to Sermons will encourage us to strengthen our spirit for the fight against anxiety. Reading and memorizing Scripture will allow us to renew our mind and dwell on what is right and pure in attitude (Phil. 4:8). Scripture will help us to turn anxiety to dependence on God (Phil. 4:6-10).

2, Act in love. Scripture tells us that perfect love casts our fear (1 Jn. 4:18). Love turns our own life issues to focusing on others. You can act in love by preparing ahead and listing out anxious thoughts with Scripture passages and actions of love to counter the thoughts. Keep a log of success and pray with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:7).

3, Re-direct your fear to a fear of God. Scripture tells us to turn our fear of man (i.e. persecution or being liked) to a healthy fear of the Lord, who is able to destroy both soul and body (Mt. 10:28). The Bible says that the fear of the Lord brings knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and instruction (Prov. 1:7; 9:10).

Emotions make good slaves, but poor masters.

4, Pray for trust in God. Trusting in God delivers us from evil (Prov. 29:25). Scripture tells us to turn our fear of being caught by wickedness to confidence in the Lord (Prov. 3:25-26). As Christians, sometimes we fight as if we are atheist, forgetting the sovereignty of God and the fact that God has a ‘good’ plan in and through all of our circumstances (Rom. 8:28).

5, Have planned exercises or activities to take your mind off anxious thoughts. Exercising can be a great way to physically deal with your anxious thoughts. If you’re focused on a difficult physical task, your mind will be less likely to focus on other circumstances. Also, if you know certain activities that give you a new perspective, then re-direct your energy to them. I love playing tennis and you may love cooking. Whatever the activity is, know that you can accompany the other strategies with something practical that you enjoy. [1]

In Conclusion, Keep Fighting Christian. I remember playing tennis and being behind 6-0, 5-0. The thought of winning 12 games in a row to come back was a daunting task that caused anxiety. I went back to my towel, breathed and played one point at a time. I developed a strategy and stuck with it each point until I eventually won the match. Now, of course that isn’t the circumstance every time; however, it illustrates that working a strategy can bring you from anxiety to victory. I pray that you keep fighting against anxiety and don’t let it beat you down. Work the strategies above and pray that you will deal with anxiety better next time your in the ring.

References: [1] Robert Smith, The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference (Stanley, N.C.: Timeless Texts, 2004), 365–366.

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David J. Lupinetti is the Associate Pastor at San Tan Bible Church in Arizona. He has a passion for Expository Preaching, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, and Evangelism.

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