Anxiety is more prevalent than ever before and is affecting Christians everywhere. No-one is exempt from this oppressive experience falling upon their shoulders. There is still so much that can be done in the mission to eradicate the stigma, shame, and misunderstanding that so often surrounds this area of illness. Indeed, that is one of the main reasons we set up Renew Magazine. We’ve put together 3 crucial tips and encouragement for those who are suffering from anxiety.
1. Receiving medication and treatment doesn’t equate to a lack of faith.
This is a huge misunderstanding surrounding what it truly means to be a ‘suffering saint.’ We must grasp hold of the assurance that a caring Father has provided us with medical professionals, counsellors, and psychologists in order to assist us in our struggle with mental illness. Medication is often a crucial element of effective treatment, and can simply help you get better. Brazenly ceasing all medication against professional opinion and “trusting in God,” is at best foolish, and at worst downright dangerous. Prayer is an essential tool, and can change everything, but we must understand that the good counsel of God is holistic in nature, and includes all the elements of an effective treatment plan. Counselling, psychotherapy, and medication can be a divine gift from God.
2. Some people still won’t understand what you’re going through.
I read something recently that said anxiety-sufferers are often nothing short of genius in the way they can hide their affliction. Indeed, a person may be experiencing a full-blown panic attack and yet not show any sign of it on their face. Be assured, though, the storm continues to rage within. This can be incredibly confusing for those who have had no experience of mental health problems. “You’re fine!” some may say. “Get a grip!” is the worst. Whilst the general understanding about anxiety is deepening, still many will be reluctant to learn what it is all about. And that’s OK. The Church, too, has much to learn from anxiety sufferers and mental health experts alike. This is going to take time. Not everyone will get what you’re going through. With this in mind, be prayerful about the people you entrust to walk alongside you during your struggle with anxiety.
3. Sharing your story is liberating. Let God empower you to embrace your testimony.
There is a reason why the book of Revelation says that we will triumph over Satan by the blood of the lamb and the “word of our testimony,” (Revelation 12:11). Words are powerful, and your story can change lives. It is the gracious, all-caring way of the Lord to use our weakness to both glorify himself and to minister his grace, love, and kindness to others. Does your anxiety define you? Absolutely not. Your identity is rooted in the fact you are an adopted child of God, and nothing will ever change that. But if anxiety is the ‘thorn in your side,’ learn to freely embrace it without shame, and share your story with others. This will be a liberating encouragement to others, will contribute to the destruction of the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and will break chains over your own life. Speak. Silence breeds stigma and misunderstanding. Don’t be ashamed. God will empower you as you speak words of his faithfulness through your struggle with anxiety!
Being vulnerable to share your struggle with anxiety is not easy. It starts with knowing who you are in Jesus Christ. Be assured that you are safe in his hands. We must continue to return to an open dialogue and an honest discussion about these crucial issues that affect so many. I pray that you will be bold to share your story today!
Will Maule is a writer from Northern Ireland.