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How to Deal with Anxiety

Here’s a reliable way to deal with anxiety, stress, and live with greater peace…

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By Marilyn Adamson

What causes our anxiety? The list is so long...terrorism, climate change, racism, wars, government dysfunction, poverty, sexual assault, human slavery, natural disasters, personal finances, illness, job security, stressful relationships, addictions, etc.

It’s painful to itemize these.

We are no longer merely aware of what’s affecting us personally. The Internet has made us global citizens. We’re aware of serious problems in every corner of the world...every day...every minute.

News outlets feed our fear, our human tendency to pay attention to what is alarming.

However, most of what causes anxiety is very personal. It’s what’s going on in our lives.

It’s that sinking feeling that we can’t control the circumstances. We feel at risk. Powerless. It is the fear of something being done to us, and we can’t escape it nor do anything to change it.

Is there a way to experience peace in the midst of this? Yes.

Peace, Not Anxiety

This article will give you reliable ways to gain peace in the face of anxious-causing circumstances.

First let’s add a word about medications. If you usually struggle with anxiety, if your anxiety causes you to spiral into depression and thoughts of self-harm, please see a doctor for medical help. There might be a chemical imbalance that requires medication. Sometimes there are patterns, pathways in our brains that might need medical help in order to form new pathways of thought.

Just like diabetics need insulin, there are medications that allow you to view concerns more objectively, more calmly. Medications have shown to significantly improve the lives of many who suffer with anxiety.

However, being able to view situations calmly and rationally is only part of a solution. It helps, but it stops short of providing real peace. It’s like a person who has a broken leg and stops walking on it. It helps. But they still have a broken leg.

Life is challenging.

What you need is an inner peace that is enduring, that allows your mind and heart to rest, in spite of difficult situations.

A Reliable Approach in Anxious Situations

For years as an atheist, I searched for a philosophy that would always be reliable. I wanted one that would guide me through all of life, and “work” in any situation. I studied Sartre, Plato, Socrates, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Hume, and on and on.

What I came to find out is that a philosophy was insufficient. It still left all the problems squarely on my shoulders.

Psychology can be similar. It might help, but psychologists mostly try to have you view the circumstances differently. Tough to do when threats are very real.

I thought the same about religions. I wasn’t looking for rituals, meditation, doctrines. They seemed like external props. Like mind games to try to distract you from real problems. Mere positive thinking without substance. A placebo at best.

I knew the potential in life for real difficulties. I wanted to know an approach that would be reliable no matter what life threw at me.

We look to science for cures, governments to change laws and stop wars, and societies to be compassionate toward all people in need. We should strive toward all these. Yet, humanity is not always wise, not always kind.

We often can be disappointed.

As I was searching for an approach to life that always works, I became friends with someone whose life I admired. She seemed able to handle circumstances with calm. She had an internal strength that I noticed. She also talked about God.

It caused me to wonder if God actually existed.

The possibility of God’s existence started me on a long process of questioning, researching. While doing so, I held resolutely to my strong defenses. The last thing I wanted was to be fooled into believing in something that wasn’t real.

Science Points to a Solution

After about a year and a half of serious searching, the evidence for God became too weighty to avoid. It was science that brought me to acknowledge God’s existence...the earth’s perfect position to the sun, the complex properties of water, the design of the human body, etc.

The multitude of scientific facts required for there to be life on earth made “chance” nonsensical. I asked God to come into my life in order to have a relationship with him

I came to find out that indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”1

Knowing God exists and that he actually cares about us has a profound impact on our ability to be at peace no matter what the circumstances. Let me explain.

Picture an 8-year-old little boy being harassed by a bully. His lunch is taken each day. He’s physically pushed around, humiliated for fun. He tries talking to the bully, to no avail. He tries avoiding the bully, also with failure. He tells his teacher, it too does little good.

Then one day an older student (much bigger than the bully) compassionately steps in, and informs the bully that his days of terrorizing this student are over. The bullied student is now at peace. The bully still exists, but the 8-year-old can relax, because someone greater than him is taking care of him.

We are offered the same help in life. God is greater than any problem that confronts us. He created us and is willing and wants to take care of us.

Peace in the Midst of Life’s Stress

In the midst of life’s pressures, Jesus tenderly says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”2

This is the God who created the universe, created galaxies of stars and planets, billions of life and plant species, an intricate ecosystem and human life. “Nothing is too hard for him.”3 He invites us to come to him for help.

Jesus constantly described God as our “Father” in heaven who loves us.

A good father will protect, provide, teach, love, care for, sacrifice for his children. He will seek always assure them of his love.

If you grew up with parents or a father that didn’t love you in this way, then the term “Father” might not be endearing to you. In fact, some people’s anxiety might have started due to their parents or a living situation that instilled deep insecurity and fear. You might have experienced abuse. Neglect. Abandonment.

Experiences like this can skew our view of the world, of ourselves and others. However, a relationship with God brings the start of a new life. Jesus even referred to this as being born again. Life is different, new, once you begin a relationship with him.

To view ourselves and our life properly, to even know what’s true, who better to show us real life but the God who created us and loves us? It is God who put us here and he can guide us with insight greater than our own.

Not Being Alone

One of our greatest fears is going through a crisis alone and wondering if we will have the emotional or physical strength to deal with it, on behalf of ourselves or our loved one. “Will I be able?”

God never intended that we would go through this life on our own. He is intimately aware of you.

He knows everything about you. Your background. Events that have happened to you. Accomplishments. Dreams you have for your life (or lack thereof). Your pain. Your future, your relationships. Absolutely everything. Jesus said he’s aware of the smallest, insignificant details of your life, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”4

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and known everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away...You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it...”5

He knows everything about you and Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”6 The most secure relationship we can have in this world is a relationship with God, who loves us.

Guidance in the Darkness

God wants to lead us with his guidance. We don’t need to keep stumbling in the dark, in uncertainty.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”7

We’re invited, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.”8 Any problem we encounter, we don’t need to shoulder alone. We can ask him for whatever our need is and in his love and wisdom he can sort it out and act on our prayers exactly like a loving Father would. It doesn’t mean we are spared difficult experiences. A loving father doesn’t prevent struggles, failures, disappointments.

However, the bottom line is that God can and will take care of us.

I’ve seen God answer prayer more times than I could count. There are also things I’ve asked God for that he has not yet answered. But I know that he sees the big picture, the right time, and he assures us, “...God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God...”9

When I’ve needed direction in my life for important decisions I needed to make, God provided...clearly.

When I’ve been discouraged or frustrated over a situation, he has gently spoken to me, corrected my perspective, giving me his views as I’ve sought him in the Bible. And his guidance set my feet on solid ground again and gave my heart peace.

I’ve seen God’s love free me from insecurities and give me more compassion for people than I would naturally have.

This is what it’s like to be in a relationship with God, which he offers anyone. The Bible describes God as the wonderful counselor, everlasting father, prince of peace, mighty God. And he is all that.

Freedom from Doom

At the same time, let me underscore, being in a relationship with God does not mean we avoid life’s problems.

There was a time in my life when I encountered an event that I couldn’t do anything about. At four months of pregnancy, I was told there were problems. I knew God well enough that I could trust God with this, no matter what the outcome. Our daughter was stillborn.

Because I was able to trust God with this, though there was great sadness, I never struggled with bitterness, anger or anxiety.

However, there was an emotion that caught me by surprise. After the death of our child, I began to struggle with fear over the possibility of my husband also dying. I asked God to speak to this fear, to show me how to view it properly.

My answer came soon when God led me to this statement in Psalms:

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you...”10

I knew that God does not promise that no one will ever die. That just isn’t something God promises. However, with God as my refuge, the one I trust, even if my husband died, God would not allow that to be “evil” in my life. God would not let it overcome me, destroy me, harm me. I would be ok.

“No evil shall be allowed to befall you.” God sets limits. If we will trust him, we can go through situations differently...with peace.

No Problem is Too Big

Jesus said, “In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”11

Therefore we’re told, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer...let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”12

Is this just wishful thinking? No. Look at the facts of God’s ability and power. The universe is his, created by him, and he maintains control over it.

The earth we’re on right now is spinning at about 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 km per hour). Yet we feel perfectly calm, and enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and sunset this motion creates.

The earth is also rotating around the sun at 67,000 mph. Even at this speed, it maintains the perfect distance from the sun, not too far away, not too close.

In the same way that God is aware of the billions of galaxies, God is aware of every large and small detail of your life. And he loves you.

He loves you, not because you or I deserve it, but because it is his nature to love and to take care of those who will trust him.

God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”14

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”15

Jesus said, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”16 He is greater than any problem we can encounter.

Freedom from anxiety is knowing that God is capable, he cares and will act on your behalf. To know God in this way you need for first begin a relationship with him.

If you would like to begin a relationship with God and know his love for you, this explains how: Knowing God Personally.

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Footnotes: (1) Psalm 46:1 (2) Matthew 11:28 (3) Jeremiah 32:17 (4) Luke 12:7 (5) Psalms 139:1-4 (6) John 10:10 (7) John 8:12 (8) 1Peter 5:7 (9) Romans 8:28 (10) Psalm 91:9,10 (11) John 16:33 (12) Philippians 4:4-7 (13) American Lung Association (14) Isaiah 41:10 (15) Isaiah 40:28-31 (16) John 14:27

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