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How to battle anxiety and win

You’re shaking, your thoughts are racing, dizziness creeps in, and you feel outside yourself. Your chest tightens, you start to go numb, then irrational fear takes over, and you’re assuming the worst possible outcome. These are just some of the symptoms that can come with anxiety.

Everyone worries sometimes, but anxiety happens when worry takes over our lives. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder. Not everyone who experiences anxiety has a disorder — you might be experiencing an anxious season — but everyone has access to help.

Whether your anxiety is the result of biology, circumstances, or both, there is hope. Writing to anxious and persecuted Christians, the apostle Peter tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on [Jesus] because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Jesus doesn’t want you to live with anxiety. He loves you and has a better plan for your life.

When to Get Help

Professional counseling or medication, or both, can be an important part of the healing process. If anxiety is affecting your daily life, consider talking to your doctor or counselor.

There’s no shame in getting help, and it’s not a sin to take medication if you need it. James, the brother of Jesus, encourages both prayer and medicine: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). Anointing with oil was not only a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, but also a medicine. In the parable of the good Samaritan that Jesus tells in Luke 10:2537, the Samaritan uses olive oil to sooth the injured man’s wounds.

Jesus doesn’t want you to live with anxiety. He loves you and has a better plan for your life.

Sometimes, anxiety is a result of something going on in our brains that can be helped with medicine. Your brain is an organ, just like your liver. If you would take medication for your liver, then why shouldn’t you take medication for your brain?

Counseling and medication are just some of the ways God offers us grace and healing in the midst of our pain.

Fighting Anxiety Is a Fight for Your Mind

No one says, “I want to be anxious! Let me start thinking about all the terrible things that could happen. That’ll be fun!” Instead our minds start racing, and we wonder, “Why can’t I stop thinking about this?”

Anxiety isn’t rooted in truth. Anxiety is rooted in deception planted by Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44). When the first seed of anxiety starts sprouting, affirming the anxiety is like giving a plant water. Anxiety will grow until it has taken over our minds, choking out everything else. Before we know it, we’re believing all kinds of lies:

He looked at me funny.
I wonder if he’s upset.
Everyone hates me.
I’m getting fired.
My spouse is leaving.
I’m dying.

That’s the spiritual side to anxiety. As Christians, we have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus offers us the opposite: an abundant, full life (John 10:10).

Trying to move from anxiety to abundant life can feel like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. Instead of getting overwhelmed by how far you have to go, start by taking your anxiety to Jesus. Ask Him to carry it and calm your anxious heart.

Jesus Gives Us What We Need to Fight This Battle — Himself.

The Bible tells us to “...take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We tame our anxious thoughts by recognizing them as lies, calling them lies, then replacing them with the truth of Scripture.

God knows we’re all in a battle “... against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). God equips us with armor. We just need to pick it up, put it on, and use it (Ephesians 6:10-18). The armor of God helps us to take our thoughts captive, resist Satan’s lies, and win the battle against anxiety.

We put on the belt of truth by reading our Bible, which is God’s truth. A Roman soldier’s belt was pulled up his tunic so he wouldn’t trip in battle. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the easier it will become to test our anxious thoughts and recognize them as lies before they trip us up (Acts 17:11).

We take up the shield of faith as we learn about Jesus. A Roman shield was covered in wet animal hide to put out flaming arrows. Satan’s lies are like flaming arrows bringing doubt, but faith helps us snuff them out by choosing to believe God’s promises.

We put on the helmet of salvation every time we recall who we are in Christ. Jesus has already defeated Satan, and Jesus gives us the power to overcome Satan as well (1 John 5:4).

When we focus on Jesus and bring our anxiety to Him, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). And with His help we can think about true things (Philippians 4:8).

Don’t battle alone. Assemble an army.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the truth through the fog of the lies.

Who can you talk to about your fears? Sometimes, just saying what you’re thinking out loud helps lessen its intensity. When we’re trapped in lies and scrambling to get out, trusted friends can remind us of the truth (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Having other Christians we can be honest with is a vital part of healing. We need people who won’t judge, who will listen patiently, who will tell the truth, and who will pray for us. We need people who will help us with the daily things when we’re in a particularly rough season.

Haven’t found your people yet? Joining a small group and serving on Sundays are great ways to connect to other Christians in the church.

Progress is a process

It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK to stay that way.

Just like following Jesus is a lifelong endeavor, learning to take our thoughts captive is a lifelong process. Celebrate small steps and progress along the way.

There is no progress in our lives until we embrace the process for the work God wants to do in us. When we lean into God and trust Him, He will take us places we can’t even imagine, and it will be more than worth it.

Verses to Remember when You’re Anxious

The best way to fight the lies of the enemy is to replace them with the truth of the Bible. These 10 verses are promises that can help you battle anxious thoughts in all sorts of situations. Consider memorizing them so you can take this truth with you wherever you go.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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).

“But now, this is what the LORD says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:19).

“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).

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6)

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Bonus Reading: Psalm 103 is helpful whenever you are anxious about anything.

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