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Anxiety

We are all familiar with anxiety in some way. Our thoughts don’t stop their constant whirling around in our head and we feel tension as we carry a weight of unease, worry and sometimes dread. Physically, our muscles don’t totally completely relax and our heart rate and blood pressure increase. There are also neurological and chemical changes in our bodies as we find ourselves in fight or flight mode, making us extra jumpy or skittish and unable to relax or sleep.

Do not be anxious about anything, 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 in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

We know that the Bible is filled with commands for us to not be afraid, to fear not, and to be anxious for nothing. A quick read can leave us thinking that the bible doesn’t understand what anxiety really is but as we come to know God’s word more, we see that these commands are given to us because God knows that we will be anxious, and we will be afraid, and they encourage us to turn to him in those moments.

Safety

Our ability to experience fear and anxiety is a God-given gift. It works as an alarm bell warning us of things that are wrong, of troubles in the world and troubles in our own heart. We are anxious when things that are near and dear to us are threatened, when something is not right and when things are not safe, the alarm is telling us that all is not right with the world.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

– Psalm 18:2

Because of our sinful hearts and our experiences in this sinful world, this God-given capacity can misfire. We might find that we are overreactive when it comes to facing the real troubles that come across our path, or we are oversensitive and easily triggered so that we cannot make sense of what is a real source of anxiety or not. Sometimes this severe anxiety comes in the form of anxiety disorder, panic attacks or anxiety attached. As we move through these experiences, we can grow in being able to use them as a window into our soul, we can reflect on what it is that we are afraid of and anxious about, reflect further on what makes us anxious and most importantly bring all this to our heavenly Father who promises to protect us and keep us safe.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

– John 14:27

Security in God

Living in a broken world, surrounded by broken people, we know that nothing is safe or certain. The only safety and security that we have can be found in God. This is something that we often know to be true in our heads, we know that God is in control of everything, but that is not a comfort that always reaches our hearts. We need constant reminders of who our God is, and ongoing support in linking our experiences together with God’s promises so that we continue to turn to God for the peace and security he provides.

God is our rock and our fortress. Knowing that means we can rest on him when life seems to be unstable. God will never leave us or forsake us. This encourages us to not be afraid of friends or family or the ridicule of others because we are safe in our relationship with the God of the universe. Knowing that our Heavenly Father is in control of everything gives us a comfort and security we cannot have when we try to be in control.

Often our anxiety is a reflexive reaction and can override the knowledge we have of God’s promises. What do we do when we are anxious or worried? How do we work to relate God’s promises to our fears?

Tell God all your anxieties and leave them with him. Ask for courage to do this.

Pray that you can feel God’s promises deep in your heart (e.g. that he is your Father, that he is in control, that God is a rock and firm foundation).

Reflect and remember how God has looked after his people through all of history.

Talk to others, ask them to remind you of God’s promises and providence, and ask if they can pray for you and with you.

Reflect on situations that may trigger anxiety. What is governing your heart? Where don’t you feel safe?

Pray through the Psalms, reflect on how the psalmists learn to bring their anxieties to God. There are also some great devotionals dedicated to this.

Recommended Books and Resources

Social Anxiety: Being Comfortable in your own Skin Amy Baker

Overcoming Anxiety: Relief For Worried People David Powlison

Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Trusting God When You're Afraid Jocelyn Wallace

Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective Stuart Scott

Anxiety: Anatomy and CureBob Kellemen

Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest Ed Welch

When I am Afraid: A Step By Step Guide away from Fear and Anxiety Ed Welch

Anxiety Attacked: Applying Scripture to the Cares of the SoulJohn MacArthur

Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace Tim Lane

Mindscape: What to Think about instead of WorryingTimothy Witmer

Fear Factor: what Satan doesn't want you to know Wayne Mack and Joshua Mack

The Anxiety CureArchibald Hart

Untangling EmotionsAlasdair Groves and Winston Smith

A Small book for the Anxious HeartEd Welch

Anxiety: Knowing God’s PeacePaul Tautges

Doubt: Trusting God’s PromisesElyse Fitzpatrick

Why am I Feeling Like This? A teen’s guide to freedom from AnxietyDavid Murray

Why is My Teenager Feeling Like This? A guide for helping teens through Anxiety and Depression David Murray

Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and ConfidenceElyse Fitzpatrick

Zoe’s Hiding Place: When you are Anxious David Powlison, illustrated by Joe Hox

*We have a selection of books in the Trellis Library that are available for loan. If you would like to borrow a book, please get in touch with us to find out if we have a copy available. 

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