A Four-Step Method to Biblically Controlling Anxiety Symptoms
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. – Psalm 50:15
Anxiety is a very common issue in our culture today. Stress, worry, fear, and doubt are just a few common anxiety symptoms. When we experience any or all of these feelings, it begins to affect our bodies (headaches/migraines, heart flutters, feeling a heavy weight in our throat or stomach). Anxiety affects our thoughts: “I’m overwhelmed!” “I don’t have any control in my life!” “I’m scared of my future and what’s going to happen.” These body sensations, feelings, and thoughts take over our lives and also take the joy out of living each day. Our focus narrows and fear builds. This path of anxiety leads into land of isolation and prevents you from living the life God planned for you.One time a woman told me in counseling that her relationship with the Lord was good and strong. She also said she has had anxiety for at least 20 years. When we discussed the role God played in her life when it came to getting rid of the anxiety, she explained that they were separate. Thus began her journey to put God at the center of her life instead of anxiety. (And also, to kick anxiety to the curb!) God has EVERYTHING to do with anxiety.
Author Jerry Bridges wrote a book called, “Trusting God Even When Life Hurts.” In this book, Bridges poses two questions to the reader: “Can you trust God? In other words, is He dependable in times of adversity? But the second meaning is also critical: Can you trust God? Do you have such a relationship with God and such a confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power?”
As we explore these two questions, here are four steps to reduce anxiety symptoms in your life.
Step One: Call on God
The question “Can you trust God?” with the two separate meanings is where we begin to address anxiety. When worry, stress, and doubt are your daily companions, is God there, too? Can we count on Him like we can count on the anxiety to be there? This brings us to the second meaning of the question of trusting God – Do I have a strong relationship with the Lord and bring my anxiety, my adversity, to Him?
As the psalmist says in Psalm 50:15 written at the beginning of this article, God wants us to call on Him in these times and He WILL be there even if we can’t see His power or feel His presence.
Step Two: Go to Him
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
As Christians, in times of anxiety, we go to God in two ways. The first way is in prayer, which is part of our “call” to Him. The above verse tells us how to pray a prayer to get rid of anxiety. God asks us to bring both the things that worry us AND the things we are thankful for that God has brought into our lives. If this is difficult, thank Him for the device you’re reading this article on, the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, and the food in your belly.The second way to go to God is to open your Bible and read His Word. Read the Psalm and Philippians verses quoted in this article. Look up anxiety in the back of your Bible and read the verses associated with anxiety and worry. Words are so powerful! Think of how powerful the anxious thoughts are in your life. God is so much bigger and powerful than anxiety! Those body sensations, feelings, and thoughts aren’t you – they aren’t your true self.
Step Three: Separate Yourself from the Anxiety
Anxiety is not who you are. You are more than a feeling or thought of stress and worry. These are not the only feelings you have. When describing anxiety, describe it with some distance from yourself. For example, instead of saying “I’m anxious” describe it like this, “I’m feeling anxious.”
God has given us the ability to control our anxious feelings and thoughts. Since we have called on Him (Step One) and have gone to Him in prayer and by reading His Word (Step Two), now we can name our feeling a feeling or our thought a thought and not use “I am….” Anxiety is not who you are, or were, or will be. It’s an emotion that really summarizes a bunch of emotions, thoughts, and body sensations, but it NEVER summarizes us.
Step Four: Find A Purpose for Anxiety
What you have gone through in your experiences with anxiety has not been in vain. God always uses experiences in our lives to draw us closer to Him. As we do draw closer, He offers us opportunities to help others. Millions of people deal with anxiety and you are in an amazing position to help a fellow brother or sister in Christ, or even a non-believer find the real and permanent solution to dealing with anxiety. This is what counselors at Seattle Christian Counseling are here for – to come alongside you and share your burden. The counselors offer comfort and encouragement to help you face the adversity of anxiety.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4
For additional Bible references for anxiety, please look to Proverbs 12:25, Ecclesiastes 7:14, Luke 12:22-34, and 1Peter 5:7.
ReferenceBridges, J. (2008). Trusting God: Even when life hurts. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress.
“Anxiety,” courtesy of wokandapix, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Turn to God,” courtesy of unsplash.com, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Chain,” courtesy of bstad, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Growth,” courtesy of Tambira Photography, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License