Do you struggle with anxiety? Have you ever felt like you could never be at peace again?
Anxiety affects 19.1% of Americans today. It is a mental illness of, more often than not, irrational fears. It hurts, and it hurt me too, for several months this year. There were certainly a few times when it felt impossible to overcome, and impossible to ever be at peace of mind again. Peace seemed like a far-off dream or fantasy that I could never again obtain.
I didn’t really experience anxiety much until I entered college. Suddenly, I was thrown into a secular atmosphere with people very different from me, loads of school, and little sleep. Added to that were other pressures of life, such as the aching knowledge that so many people around me needed Jesus, and my hopelessness to make a difference in their lives.
The anxiety got its worst last May, during finals. In a future post (an essay I wrote for a Creative Nonfiction class this semester), I will go into more detail about what happened then. In short, I was taken to the hospital for a muscle spasm caused by stress and anxiety, and I never wanted to experience that type of pain ever again.
What I learned a few months ago through the wisdom and faith of a godly lady, I will surely never forget. I left her that day experiencing so much freedom and inexplicable peace. God had always had the ability, it was only a matter of me trusting that He did.
To this day, I have a lot of freedom from anxiety. Though it still creeps up on me from time to time, I now have a newfound faith in God’s ability to trump anxiety in my life.
I cannot go on living my life without sharing how I was healed here, for any of you out there who are in the same boat as I was: crippled by anxiety, uncertain of your identity, doubting the truth.
God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace! Let your minds and hearts be at rest in the name of Jesus as your prepare to read the rest of this post. I bind the enemy in the name of Jesus from any distractions trying to get in the way. Jesus Christ has the full victory in your life, now and forever!
So here are some key things that helped me trust in God’s power to defeat my anxiety:
1. Recognize that fear is fake
Fear is a huge deceiver, enslaving so many people’s lives with irrational beliefs about reality. Fear makes you believe that the shadow in your room must be a monster. Only when you turn the light on do you realize how ridiculous it was for you to believe that—it was only your jacket hanging up in your closet! As children of God, we have nothing to be anxious about. God is in total control! Jesus Himself is sustaining all of life—even the mundane parts. Rest in Him!
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17
2. Recognize the anxiety is NOT yours
If you are believing anything like I was – that anxiety defines you, that it is your anxiety, that you simply are an anxious person – then, Beloved of God, turn away from these false beliefs! Did God give you a spirit of fear or anxiety? Absolutely not! In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 says just the opposite:
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)
You already have this powerful, loving, self-controlled spirit through your faith in Jesus! This strong, life-giving spirit is already yours–because you are a child of God, you have full access to it. If you experience anxiety, it is coming from an outside source – an anxious spirit – and it is imposing itself onto you, taking advantage of your lack of faith. But all along you are more than a conqueror through Jesus, and are more than able to claim the authority over it which Jesus has already given you (Matthew 28:18-20). Anxiety has no place in your life! Anxiety is not your true identity. Instead you are one with Christ, fully able to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13). Praise God!
3. Recognize Jesus is stronger than your feeble efforts
Over the summer, I read a classic book called, The God of All Comfort (which I highly recommend!). The author, Hannah Whitall Smith, encourages readers to simply trust in God, especially trusting in His comfort, love, grace, and forgiveness. She touches on some key truths about God that may give us the faith to fully believe Him. She describes God’s presence as a dwelling place incapable of arousing fear or doubt, and completely full of the peace that passes all understanding. When you put your faith in Jesus and trust that you are as a state of being in the presence of God, there is peace.
But for many people, this requires a battle against the spiritual forces of evil around us. At another point in the book, Hannah exhorts the reader to put off all doubt and fear all together, to slam the door on it once and for all, and to claim once in for all the victory over them in the name of Jesus! I remember when I first read that, I paused in shock, reading it over again to see if I’d really just read that. Was this actually possible? And yet, a part of me had been thinking that it might be true. She had affirmed that it was.
And so, I made an attempt to do just that. The anxiety must go away—now and forever! But before I knew it, the anxiety came creeping back to me same as ever. What was wrong with me?
After talking with the wise woman of God, I realized that I had been trusting in my own power to slam the door shut on anxiety. I myself am utterly weak, but Jesus is strong in me! Trust in Jesus’ strength to overcome your weakness. Trust that His peaceful presence can submerge all doubts, fears and anxieties. Trust that He can and will have the full victory in your life if you only let Him!
As the same wise woman told me, the healing doesn’t have to be a process, it can happen in an instant. The instant we put our faith in Jesus’ full victory is the instant we are healed. More often than not, anxiety may keep trying to get a hold of you and may come in at times when we are not alert of it, but with faith in Jesus it has no long-lasting hold in your life! With faith in Jesus, you can keep slamming the door on it, no matter how many times it takes, until it becomes easier and easier for it to go away—until at last it is gone. Anxiety can go away the instant we recognize what is going on and put our full trust in the Son of God, it’s just a matter of perseverance and faith, no in our own strength, but in God’s.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:4 (ESV)
4. Desire anxiety to be rid of in your life
Something particularly intriguing I realized as I made steps to freedom from anxiety, is that I truly had to want very badly for the anxiety to disappear. If I were indecisive of how much I wanted it to go away and I let it hang around like an old friend, then it would—naturally—get worse. The spirit of anxiety also, in a way, seemed so bent on enslaving me that it felt similar to what people would normally call temptations. It was as if the anxiety was tempting me to be anxious! I don’t know how the enemy gets you to be anxious, but that was a particular key part of my own personal struggle.
Realize that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t just about you, it’s about obeying God. It’s about submitting to Him so that you may experience a life of freedom that glorifies Him. Turn from anxiety and let peace rule in your heart, because it is what the Lord commands us!
“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)
5. Believe that God desires anxiety to flee from you, too!
Not only is anxiety something you want out of your life, and not only would being less anxious make you more fit for His kingdom, but the Lord genuinely cares for you, as the verse from the last sections indicates. Your Father in heaven can’t bear to see you suffer from anxiety! It breaks His heart. He is moved with pity and tenderness towards you. He sees it as no little thing for you to have such mental sickness. He wants to heal you! He loves you just because He is God, and you are His precious child, whom He created in your mother’s womb. He knew you before He even created you! Have no doubt in your mind that He values you and considers you worth freeing from anxiety. He longs to show compassion on you!
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” – Isaiah 30:18
Now, Beloved, I have taken you along my journey of how God freed me from anxiety and how He can and wants to free you, too. Hear me out: there is a bright future ahead of you! Do NOT believe that anxiety is impossible to overcome because that is a lie straight from the devil. Have a little faith, even if it be just as small as a mustard seed, because our God is an awesome God!
The Lord is waiting patiently for you in hopes you will lay back in His arms and rest in His grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, nothing you do or don’t do can remove His love for you, or blot out His forgiveness that stretches as far as the east is from the west. He knows exactly where you’re at right now, and He can meet you right where you’re at with patience and tenderness, and at the same time with victory.
He freed me, so He can free you, too.
God is with you, Beloved! Where His presence is, there can be no doubts, fear, or anxiety but only peace. And so, may the peace of God truly be with you, at all times and in every way. (2 Thess. 3:16)
Have a wonderful day, abiding in the Lord’s peaceful dwelling place!
Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you have questions for me about how to overcome it? Comment below—I would be so happy to encourage you further into the freedom you have been given in Christ!