According to studies, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder among Americans. Of the millions of people who suffer from mental health disorders in the United States, roughly 48% of them are diagnosed with anxiety. While there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking professional medical help, it’s important that there is also a spiritual aspect to the disease. Understanding how to overcome the spiritual aspects of anxiety. While the Bible doesn’t discuss mental disorders at length, it does discuss anxiety and how to overcome it.
Anxiety is the most common mental issue that people face today. Of the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with mental issues, studies show that roughly 48% of them are diagnosed with anxiety. Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions about mental health, especially within the church. Many well-meaning Christians often tell people dealing with mental issues to simply “pray about it.” While that is certainly one of the ways to overcome anxiety, it’s important to understand that people who face anxiety should most certainly seek professional medical help. Doing so does not show a lack of faith, contrary to what you may have heard. God has blessed men and women in the medical field to diagnose and help treat these diseases and relying on their expertise is encouraged.
However, mental health also has a spiritual aspect. When you are consumed with anxiety, the enemy of your soul, Satan, will do everything in his power to try to prey on you. When he catches you weakened by anxiety, it’s much easier for him to make you question your faith and become weak in other areas.
There are accounts of miracles performed by Jesus on individuals that had ‘mental’ issues. Why did Jesus heal/change lives/come to Earth?
To display God’s Love and mercy
One of the reasons why Jesus used miracles was to exhibit the love and mercy of God toward the plight of human beings. In the healing of the leper, for example, it was because Jesus had pity on the person.
To prove His identity
Another reason why Jesus performed miracles was to show the people his identity as the Messiah. The Prophet Isaiah had written many years before Jesus was born, that the Messiah would heal the blind, the deaf, the lame, the dump and many others. Jesus’ miracles were to prove that he was the Messiah that Isaiah had written about.
As a means of arousing faith
Sometimes Jesus used miracles as a means of arousing faith in his followers and the benefactors of the miracles. When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea, he aroused the faith of his disciples. Also, when he raised Jairus’ daughter, he also aroused the faith of the child’s father.
As an evidence of the presence of The Kingdom of God
Another reason why Jesus performed miracles was to show that the kingdom of God had arrived through him (Jesus). For example, when Jesus was accused of employing the powers of Belzebub to cast our demons, he replied that if he is able to cast demons by the spirit of God, it means the kingdom of God had arrived.
As crusade against Satan
Jesus used healing miracles, for example, as a means of attacking the kingdom of Satan. After the seventy got back from their mission, they told Jesus how they performed miracles in his (Jesus’) name, Jesus said, “I beheld Satan fall like lightening from heaven”.
To win souls for God
Jesus used the miracles to attract followers to his ministry and subsequently to the kingdom of God. Other people, however, deny that this was the case.
To prove the need to fast and pray
One day Jesus’ disciples could not heal an epileptic who was brought to them until Jesus himself came to heal the child. Later, Jesus advised them that such miracles could be performed through fasting and prayer.
If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, please, seek professional help. If you already are, commit to continuing that path and receive the help you need mentally and emotionally. However, there are also steps you can take to overcome the spiritual aspects of anxiety, and that’s what we’re going to look at today.
What is Anxiety?
Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
One of the first steps to truly overcoming anxiety is recognizing what it is. If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety in your own life, you’re already fully aware of the wide range of emotions that can stem from anxiety. In addition to the emotional and mental side effects, there are also physical ones to consider. People who suffer from anxiety attacks often experience severe headaches, high blood pressure, nausea, loss of sleep, and any other number of issues.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, anxiety is defined as the following:
“An apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill; an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear, often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of a threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
When we consider the definition along with the Scripture that we just read, we can get a pretty good idea of what anxiety truly is. When we fear something, usually something that has not happened yet, it begins to weigh us down. Think of anxiety like an anchor. Obviously, there are times where anchors are a good thing. You wouldn’t want to be on a boat that didn’t have one on board. In the same vein, there are times where anxiety is our body and soul’s way of telling us to avoid something. However, there are other times where anchors are not useful. You wouldn’t want to run in a race carrying an anchor. In the same way, you don’t want to go through your daily life with the weight of anxiety.
Fear of something that has not happened, or possibly will not happen, sparks a level of anxiety that is usually unhealthy. When we’re fearful about something going on in our lives, or we’re experiencing pain about something that has happened in the past, or we’re afraid of something happening in the future, it’s easy for anxiety to take over. However, Scripture says that a good word is a combatant to anxiety.
Ideally, you have people in your life who can encourage you in the face of anxiety. However, if you don’t, spend some time reading Scripture when you’re feeling anxious. When you allow the Good Word of the Gospel to infiltrate your mind and heart, it’s easier to overcome anxiety.
Where Is Anxiety Coming From?
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
In addition to knowing what anxiety is, it’s important to understand where it comes from. Every time that you’re uneasy about something, it’s not a “spirit of fear.” However, when anxiety has a crippling affect on your life, that’s when the spiritual element of anxiety comes into play. According to Paul, we can rest assured that those feelings of anxiety do not come from God. Since we know that everything in the spiritual realm has one of two origins, we can assert that the spirit of fear is created by Satan.
When Satan creates anxiety in your life, he does so for one reason: to weaken your faith and leave you in a position of fear. These feelings, which usually start with a simple thought can be cut off at the pass. In another passage, Paul encouraged us to take every thought that would raise itself up against the knowledge we have of God’s Word captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).
While there are things in your life that will naturally create some level of stress, it’s important to understand that the crippling fear associated with anxiety only comes from one place. The Spirit of God that lives inside each of us does not create anxiety. Instead, He creates power, love, and self-control.
Anxiety can cause you to lose sight of the power that you have through Christ, it can cause you to lash out at others, showing a less than loving display to them, and can often lead to a loss of self-control. When Satan tries to create anxiety in your life, remind Him that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that’s the only Spirit welcome within you.
Getting a Handle on Anxiety
Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of hte Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Now that we’ve determined what anxiety is and where it comes from, we can finish confronting this emotion. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus told the people listening to the sermon on the mount to not be anxious three times. That may not sound like much, but when you realize that He said it three times in 10 verses, it’s clear that He was trying to drive the point home.
First of all, according to that passage of Scripture, anxiety doesn’t actually produce anything. When you’re anxious about a situation or an issue in your life, the anxiety doesn’t do anything to make things better. Instead, you’re faced with the same situation, but you are no longer in the best possible position to deal with it.
Secondly, we can trust in the fact that when we place more of our trust in God, fear’s hold on our life diminishes. It’s easy to let anxiety get you to a point where you don’t even know what to pray, but the Bible teaches us that the Spirit prays for us in those cases. You are not alone in your anxiety. You are not helpless, and you are not hopeless. You are an overcomer.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, please help me to deal with the anxiety in my own life. I know that it doesn’t come from You and that all it does is cause me to lose sight of what You have for me. I know that I can overcome this through You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.