I have struggled with anxiety since childhood. I was always nervous about getting lost in crowds, fearful of storms, and convinced I would be kidnapped. As I grew older, my fears morphed into other things: Will I fail this exam? Does this headache mean I have a brain tumor? What if I marry the wrong man? When I became a mom, my anxieties multiplied. Is the baby still breathing? What if the house catches on fire in the night? Is his fever serious? Will we be able to pay our bills this month?
Whether or not my fears were rational, my mind would fixate on them–usually at night while trying to sleep. If you've struggled with anxiety, you know that feeling of being stuck. As soon as the "what if" thought creeps into your mind, you feel the blood drain from your face. Your chest might hurt, or your breathing might speed up. Sometimes I feel helpless to get out of an anxious episode. But as the Lord has used anxiety to teach me to trust Him, I've learned that one of the greatest tools in fighting anxiety is my Bible.
What we set our minds upon frames the way we think. When we give our thoughts to Scripture, our minds are shaped by the very words of God. Because the Bible is the true, living, and active Word of God, it has the power to transform our minds as we read, study, meditate on, and memorize it. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, helping us to understand Scripture and apply it to our lives. This is a true gift when we're struggling with fear and anxiety.
When anxiety strikes, we can combat it with the razor-sharp truth of God's Word. Reading, studying, praying, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture can help us put fear in its rightful place. We don't treat God's Word like a talisman or incantation. We meditate on Scripture because it changes the way we think, and when it comes to anxiety, the mind is a wide-open battlefield that we must proactively defend.
The best time to begin fighting anxiety is now, when you're not anxious. Any preparatory work you can do today will serve you when panic creeps in later.
Take every anxious thought captive.
The apostle Paul reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle which must be fought with power and strength from God. He tells us to demolish anything "that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and
For example, if the anxious thought gripping your mind says, "What if this headache means I have brain cancer," take that thought prisoner, and don't let it run wild. Pray something like this: "Lord, I am afraid that this persistent headache means something is wrong. I am feeling completely overwhelmed by anxiety. Your Word tells me to cast my anxieties on You, so I'm dumping all these thoughts at Your feet. Help me to be comforted knowing You have ordained my days." Then, take the practical steps you need to take to keep that thought in submission to Christ so that it doesn't run amuck in your mind. Call your doctor to discuss your health concerns, if necessary. Then repeat the process of taking your thoughts captive, reminding yourself every time that the Lord loves you and that He is in control.
Fight anxiety with gratitude.
Are you worried about finances or some other kind of provision? Paul tells us that the antidote to that kind of worry is gratitude. "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). As you confess your anxieties before the Lord, thank Him for the ways He has always been faithful to you. Write down some of those instances of provision. As you proactively remember God's past faithfulness, you'll be more certain of His care for you today.
Utilize practical tools.
Explore your anxieties so that you understand them properly. Utilizing the Scripture for Anxiety journal from The Daily Grace Co. can help you meditate on Scripture each day while unpacking your specific struggles. Sometimes, simply writing down our fears helps to loosen their grip. My anxieties seem to multiply when I keep them to myself, but if I speak them aloud or write them down, they lose a little bit of their power.
Being disciplined with a journal can further remind you to meditate on Scripture regularly. One of the most challenging parts about battling anxiety is that we quickly forget what is true. Meditating on Scripture throughout the day helps us remain anchored to truth about God's character and care for us. Post a set of Scriptures for Anxiety cards around your home, office, or vehicle to help you keep biblical truths ever before your eyes. Read those verses over and over, recite them, and think about what the words mean for your fears.
The more you give your thoughts to fighting anxiety, the less room there is in your mind for anxiety itself. The Bible tells us to set our minds on what is true, and when we fill our minds with Scripture, we can aid our battle against anxiety with the powerful words of the Lord.
For more on this topic, check out Episode 82, "Engaging with Our Emotions in a Healthy Way with Courtney Reissig," of the Daily Grace podcast.
Disclaimer: If anxiety is inhibiting your daily life, please contact a professional biblical counselor or a mental health professional.