23 Jun Faith Over Fear: A Christian Approach to Anxiety
If there is one instruction the Bible continually repeats, it is “Do not fear.” It seems that God, as He inspired the biblical writers, knew how His people would struggle to hold to faith while renouncing fear. As Christians, we have all of the promises of God and all the riches of His grace, yet we still tremble before the circumstances of our lives. How can we live the life of abundant faith with so much anxiety?
God’s Word on Fear and Anxiety
A Christian approach to anxiety begins with paying attention to what God says on the topic. We think that stress is the product of our modern, fast-paced culture, but fear, anxiety and uncertainty are nothing new. The Bible is filled with references to these conditions. If there is any common human condition, it is the tendency to be overcome with fear rather than faith.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 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. Philippians 4:6-7
A Christian perspective on anxiety will look different than it does for the non-believing world. While we too can benefit from intentional stress management practices, we have something deeper. We have God’s promises that He will take care of us, love us and protect us. We have the covenant of His presence and His provision. In every way, we are set up to live an abundant life.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
Rejecting a Culture of Fear
While our culture inspires fear and the belief that we are the only ones who can handle our problems, God calls us to remember that He is in control of all things and His grace is sufficient. We need not fear danger or poverty. We don’t have to be afraid of a slip or relapse. We don’t have to dread tomorrow. Instead, we can know that God is working things together for the good of those who love Him. Instead of focusing on the fear, we can shift our focus to God, our love for Him and our desire to serve Him faithfully. The thing we feared begins to pale in comparison to the greatness and power of the Almighty.
Perfectionism = Anxiety
Another reason we experience anxiety is our drive for perfectionism. We have some unrealistic and probably unattainable standard, and we drive ourselves mad trying to achieve it. It often has nothing to do with what God has for us or what He expects of us. Some of us even struggled with addiction as a means of pushing ourselves harder or so that we could check out and forget that we were failing to reach our ideal of perfectionism. That means that as we recover, in order to live sanely, we need to pursue a kind of perfectionism sobriety in which we give up these old ideals and we call a halt to the endless striving.
God did not create us to be overcome by the trials of life, and He will never test us with a challenge or difficulty beyond our ability to withstand. In Him we are more than conquerors. The power of God is given to us. We can confidently claim it as our own.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7