• Helen Thorne

Anxiety and God's word

The past two years have had an extraordinary impact on people’s mental health. The over-stimulation or under-stimulation of lockdown; the threats and the unknowns of the pandemic; the disruption to routines and many new things we’ve had to learn have all taken their toll. And then there’s all the non-pandemic-related stressors too – ministry, relationships, finance, other health concerns - they haven’t gone away. And Christmas, of course – always some pressure there!

Different people have responded differently but, for many, anxiety has come to the fore. The severity has ranged. For some, there has been an exhaustion and sense of dis-ease at what might come, for others, life has been blighted with panic-attacks, distracted days and disturbed nights. For all, uncertainty at the future has left us with an increased realisation that life is nowhere near as much under our control as maybe we thought it was. And, if we’re honest, that hurts.

Looking for help

The internet has been ablaze with self-help techniques. Taking exercise, building in down-time, prioritising carefully, breathing deeply and talking to friends are all wise ways to help us persevere. Adverts encourage us to speak to our GPs and, for some, talking therapies and medication can certainly help. But none of that includes Christ. Surely there are ways in which we can process our anxiety that involve him.

If we’re honest, quite a few of us easily believe that Christians shouldn’t admit to struggling with fears. We remember Bible verses that tell us to “be bold” or “not be anxious” and assume that our anxieties are either sins or, at the very least, the kind of weaknesses we need to hide. Others of us think if we just prayed a bit more, just remembered a few facts about God then maybe our fears would disappear. But the Apostle Paul, in his letters, referred to his anxieties (Philippians 2:28) without shame. And, at the same time, reminds us that help for our anxieties is ultimately found in relationship with the One true Lord who is present and full of peace (Philippians 4:5-7).