“Your anxiety isn’t real,” a friend once told me.
For years, I believed that along with every other anxious lie my mind told me. Since childhood, I’ve struggled with worry and anxiety. Oftentimes, I found myself plagued by new and imaginary scenarios where the worst possible outcome could happen…and I believed it to be a reality. You know, things like getting a cold and WebMD searching until I was sure I had cancer.
As an adult, I’ve taken medication, tried to distract myself, and attempted to pray this plague away. But even so, today, I still have moments where my guard is down and panic attacks with a vengeance.
Usually, these triggers aren’t real-life scenarios, but they are alive and well in my mind. So much so it has even driven me to a point where I think no one loves me or would miss me if I were gone. I know this isn’t true, but these lies can control the lives of many American adults and push them toward danger.
According to the CDC, during the COVID pandemic, 40% of US adults reported mental health issues or substance abuse. Even more terrifying is that 25.5% of 18-24-year-old’s contemplated suicide in June.
Anxiety is so real that it causes illness. The American Medical Association discovered that it is the “basic cause of more than 60% of all human illnesses and diseases.” Meanwhile, every year, 40 million adults have an anxiety-related mental illness, while only 39.6% receive any form of treatment.
Anxiety disorders are among some of the most diagnosable diseases out there, yet so many don’t understand what is going on in their minds and bodies. For Christians who are struggling with anxiety, there is another added layer of stress. Due to the lack of knowledge concerning anxiety and depression, many question their faith.
I don’t blame them – I’ve done it too.
It’s hard to cope.
It’s a battle to get out of bed.
During bouts of depression and anxiety, it’s easy to think, “God, you could heal my mind. Why don’t you?” Or “Where are You when I need you?”
A few weeks ago, He answered.
Psalm 56:11 says, “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Anxiety is usually a fear of something that we don’t know how to control or manage. That tends to happen when we try to play God and orchestrate every aspect of our lives. Or at least, that’s what I do. I worry about the future, what will happen, what could happen, or things I’ve done in my past. In doing so, I put my plan in not myself, but in others as well.
When in reality, what can man do to you? The question struck me.
What can loved ones do? Leave? They don’t own your soul.
What can the world take away? Money? You are to inherit a mansion on the streets of gold.
When it comes to health, what can it steal? Life? Our Creator is waiting for us in Glory.
Men can’t harm us. The world doesn’t control us.
I understand how anxiety can wreck your body, mind, and soul if we let it. But if we step back and look at eternity, we see hope and can catch a glimpse of the peace that is to come. When we shift our eyes to His will, we can see a glorious future with our Lord and Savior, not the worries of the world.
In the meantime, anxiety is real. But so is the confidence found in the Creator of the world. These fears steal moments, memories, and create unimaginable pain. But He’s still there, waiting to tackle whatever mayhem or minds create. Don’t forget.
“So we can say with confidence, The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
(Editor's Note: This originally was published online for Engage Magazine here.)