We live in anxiety-inducing times. All you have to do is watch the news for a few minutes to see a headline or news story that can start to produce feelings of fear about our world. But as Christians, we serve the God who “laid the foundations of the earth,” that even when the world perishes will remain into eternity (Hebrews 1:10-11 NIV).
Even so, anxiety about the unknown can create fear. And the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that “anxiety disorders are the most common illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” Clearly, there are many among us who struggle with anxiety, and Christians are not immune. And the symptoms of anxiety can be debilitating, ranging from feelings of nervousness and restlessness to having a sense of impending danger or panic.
Fortunately for us, God has immense experience instilling confidence in those who are anxious and fearful. We see numerous examples throughout the Bible of the weakness of man being overcome by the power of God.
- Moses lacked confidence in his ability to speak (Exodus 4:10). But God used him to lead the nation of Israel out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt.
- Elijah feared for his life and fled into the wilderness to hide, and prayed that he might die because he didn’t think he was up to the task of his calling (1 Kings 19:3-4). But God provided food for him to eat and water to drink (1 Kings 19:6). And then God revealed himself to Elijah in a gentle whisper, and told him how to proceed without fear (1 Kings 19:12-18).
- In his human weakness, Peter denied he knew Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). But Jesus declared that he would use Peter as the rock upon which he would build his church (Matthew 16:18). And we see this come to fruition in Acts when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Peter declared the good news of Christ, and 3,000 were baptized that day (Acts 2).
These men who are held in such high regard for their faith and commitment to God still needed God for their strength. So there is no shame in admitting that apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5 NIV).
For believers in Christ, here are three reminders that we can be confident in our heavenly Father.
1. God is in control.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:1,5 NIV)
God is our stronghold. And he never leaves or forsakes us. Even in our darkest times, God is there with us. We can take courage and find strength that he is “the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17b NIV).
2. His son, Jesus, has conquered death.
“… He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces …” (Isaiah 25:8a NIV)
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV)
Jesus’ death on the cross, burial and resurrection means that there is new life in Christ. He overcame death. So those who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). That promise is something to hold on to when the world causes us to fear.
3. God will provide.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!’” (Luke 12:22-23 NIV)
When we are anxious or fearful, it’s easy to be full of worry about the things that we need or want. God cares for all of his creation. We are valuable to him. And he is faithful to provide.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, remember that “… in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6b NIV). You’re not alone. Reach out to those around you. Your family, friends and church family can support you with encouragement during times of anxiety. And there are also mental health resources that can help. You can find recommended resources and referrals for mental health support from Focus on Family and many other faith-based organizations.
As a final encouragement…
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)