What do you think of when you hear that word?
For many Christian girls, it is a defining word of their lives. Anxiety and depression are considered completely normal and even expected for a common person’s life; it’s just how things are! Life doesn’t always go how you’re expecting, people disappoint you, college gets hard, relationships become messy, God seems distant. I mean, after all, how could we respond any differently to those things? It’s our natural disposition to fear, isn’t it?
Yes, if you live a life ruled by the flesh.
But if you claim Jesus is your savior, there is so much more! As a child of the King, you are commanded not to fear - Jesus is the one to whom you cling.
One chilly Rockford evening, I was attending a church event. The topics of the evening were depression, fear, and anxiety. And a local psychologist, with twenty years of experience, was coming to share some tips for managing these feelings. He started off by stating that everyone gets depressed, and that it’s completely normal. As some of the other attendees asked questions, he made a statement that troubled me, “Fear is something we manage. You know, I have realized that my anxiety, over the years, has improved. It will never go away completely, but it does become manageable and something we can get through from day to day.”
Hmm… Never goes away? Are you saying that bondage to fear must always stay, in some capacity, in a person’s life? Yep, that was exactly it.
This speaker believed, in accordance with what he had been taught in his mental health classes, that anxiety comes with life. Some people naturally handle it well, others need some encouragement. And his encouragement to those struggling was to take comfort in the fact that everyone struggles. He added, “Now, fear isn’t something you should just pray about and it will go away. Sometimes we need some real professional help,”
What this speaker did not know was that in this room packed full of teens, there sat one girl who had seen how her God can free anyone from depression, fear, and anxiety. That girl was me.
We serve the God who invented the mind! He is more able to help you than any doctor, psychologist, nutritionist, herbalist, otolaryngologist, or chiropractor ever could. Who do you run to when you are aching? When it hurts too much, is it a bottle of pils, your boyfriend, the psychiatric doctor, a book full of “feel good” messages, or is is Jesus Christ? There is a place for having a doctor help you, having long talks, and getting medication, but if they are your first resort, then there is something wrong. I love how Leslie Ludy says it, “Christians don’t define their worldview and their thinking from men or women with PhDs. Rather, they define their worldview, thinking, and every expectation around the hugeness of their great God and around His perfect wisdom.”
According to that psychologist, “just praying about it” would be doing yourself a disservice. And this statement exposes his disbelief in the character of God - he doesn’t believe that prayer will resolve anything. In other words, he suggests we stop talking to God about it, and instead start a conversation with a well trained, licensed psychologist who will understand us and hold our hand through it.
As a person who has personally experienced all of the above - fear, anxiety, and depression - I can tell you with absolute and complete confidence that Jesus can take them down! These things are not of our Jesus - He will never cause us to fear anything other than Himself! And our fear of Him is an awe and love of our Maker who always has His glory and what would be best for our lives in the front of His mind. If you understand that fear, anxiety, and depression are all enemy tactics, then you must resolve to bring each of them before our Captain (Jesus).
Ask God to come and search you and fortify the walls of your heart, so that you may stand up in Christ’s strength. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could all “manage” our sin; He defeated it! And He wants to come into the depths of your soul and make pure the inmost desire of your heart. He desires for your life to be radiant and victorious; He has made you for more than just struggling from one day to the next. And, believe me, I know what that feels like. But I have learned that in the situations that seem to be the lowest, most rock bottom place you could possibly be, He is so present. He has never ever been far from the heart that seeks Him, so if you think He is distant, let Him stir your soul with these verses, and ask yourself if you are truly seeking your Jesus:
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NASB
“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:17-18 ESV
“...Acknowledge the God of your father [David], and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 KJV
Be assured that if you are seeking Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength that He is most definitely near to you, even if you feel otherwise. As a woman, it’s important to understand how deceptive our feelings can be; you may feel that He is far off, but, it those moments, step back and preach the above verses to your own heart. Our God is always, always, always faithful!
If, however, you know that you have not been turning the eyes of your heart to Him, then you are making yourself available to the attacks of the enemy. Picture it like this: you’re on a dangerous journey headed through the Amazon Jungle - in order to make it through alive, you must stay very close to your tour guide. You are aware that the king of the jungle wants to harm you - he lays in wait, thinking of the ways he would love to torment you - but, he cannot do anything to you as long as you are walking only in the path the tour guide is leading you on. And you have all this in your mind… But then a beautiful parrot comes and perches on a branch a few feet away from you, and whispers the words his master - the king of the jungle - has taught him to say. “Your tour guide has no idea where He’s taking you! Just look at your feet; they’re bruised and beaten. He obviously doesn’t care about you!” Then you take a look - the parrot is right! You have been through a lot; why hasn’t the tour guide said anything about it? You begin to distrust your tour guide; why would He ever allow this?
Similarly to the parrots message, in subtle ways the enemy daily tries to pull you away from your Life Giver. He will say literally anything to bring your eyes off of Jesus and onto yourself, or onto how powerful he - the enemy of your soul - is. But Jesus has already defeated him! And our Lord is totally willing to come and make our weak places strong - He is fully able to protect you and bring lasting victory into your life. As Oswald Chambers would say, “surrender your will absolutely and irrevocably to Jesus Christ” and He will come in and be your sure footing. Eric Ludy has a great picture of this:
“God does not lose battles. It’s that simple… We lose battles when we fight them in our own strength, in our own manner. But when we learn to fight (pray) as God does, there will never be a lost battle again. There will be times of seeming defeat, moments of great suffering, occasions of terrible loss, but there will never be defeat. Why? Because God doesn’t lose battles. He always wins… There is a reason that a lion doesn’t cower before a rabbit. Because the lion knows it’s position, knows it’s strength, knows that a rabbit is not a valid threat. And there is a reason God doesn’t cower before the powers of darkness. Because, like that lion staring at a little rabbit, God knows His position, His power, and His utter and complete sway over everything and anything.”
We serve that God! He is our constant guide, and no matter what we face - we will never go alone! And He wants us to “Acknowledge [His] might” as it says in Isaiah; He is all powerful, and He wants to demolish the hold fear, depression, and anxiety have in your life. It wasn’t until I consciously chose to lift my eyes up to Him - His ability, His might, His strength - even in my most sad or painful moments that I began to see that fear has no say in the Christian life. The Bible doesn’t accidentally say anything or stutter! Our Lord fully means to save us out of fear when He commands us not to entertain it. Check out what our Lord has to say:
“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 43:1-6 NASB
1. Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer (Eugene, Oregon: Winston and Brooks, Inc. 2009), 152
2. Ibid 84,85
3. Isaiah 33:13c KJV