Anxiety. It’s more than just a buzzword in today’s culture. Anxiety is complex and affects everyone differently, from overthinking every task to experiencing full panic attacks. It often begins with a small lie and that can quickly evolve into what seems like the primary voice in our heads. Thoughts about being rejected by one person can lead to you never putting yourself out there even once. Anxiety is often a repeated experience rather than a one-time issue. Whether you’ve experienced it yourself or someone you know struggles with anxiety, we’re here to tell you that you can get through it.
Even if you feel like you don’t battle with anxiety, there’s a good chance you do battle with stress. Our modern lifestyles tend to put us in a state of low-level chronic stress, without us even realizing it. When we experience stress for long periods of time, our minds try to protect us by activating what’s known as our “fight or flight” response. When that response is always on, our brains have a hard time distinguishing between what is a perceived threat versus an actual threat to our physical, emotional or psychological well-being.
This is part of a monthly series produced in partnership with He Gets Us.
Anxiety can leave us feeling like we are isolated and alone in our experience, but that isn’t true. Did you know that Jesus struggled with these same feelings?
The task God gave Jesus to do–to give His life for the sins of the world–felt overwhelming. We see in Mark 14:32-36 that Jesus was anxious to the point where He wanted to give up. Right before He went off to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” Later, He prayed, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” He was about to go to the cross to die for the sins of the world, and He was beginning to feel the immense weight of that task ahead of Him. Imagine how anxious and alone He must have felt. In fact, Luke recounts the same scene, saying that Jesus’ anxiety was so intense that, “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
But we see here that instead of giving up, Jesus did two things. He leaned on His relationships and He prayed to God. Jesus was not alone in His trial. His disciples were with Him, and more importantly, so was God. Jesus knew He should ask others for help instead of bearing the weight alone. We see Jesus turn to His Father for help through slowing down and creating space to speak to God. Even though it didn’t take His anxiety-filled task away and He still had to go to the cross, Jesus was still able to commune with God intentionally. Instead of turning away from God and others at a difficult moment, Jesus turned toward them, understanding that only God could give Him true rest.
Jesus, knowing the challenges the world would bring to all of us, extends this beautiful invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29
Turning to God may look different for all of us. For some, getting alone time and praying is all that’s needed. Others may find that journaling their anxious thoughts works best. Whatever works best for you, the key is to step away from busy schedules and spend time with people who give us life and ultimately The One who gives us life.
Did you know that God wants you to come to Him for replenishment and rest? You can do this by praying. Prayer is simply just talking to God; it allows us to come to Him just as we are and share with Him whatever we’re going through and to ask for His companionship and help. In moments where we feel alone, like no one understands us, God sees us, just like He saw Jesus in that garden. And it’s in those moments of prayer, of abiding, that we can be fully seen and accepted—with all of our struggles and worries, and all of our shortcomings and pain. Prayer is our direct line to God, bringing us closer to Him, and inviting Him closer to us. There we can receive the courage and replenishment to keep going, even when—especially when—our circumstances don’t change. Anxiety may make us feel that we are alone, but God tells us that’s not true. He wants us to come to him when we are struggling. We are not meant to deal with this alone. He gets us!
If you’d like to talk to God, start where you are! You can say anything that’s on your mind and if it’s helpful, you can pray something like this:
“God, thank you for promising to always be with me. Please help me to learn to lean on you and your strength. Thank you for seeing me, loving me, and understanding what I am going through. Please help me in the midst of my anxiety. Amen.”
Want to go deeper? Check out this three-day Bible Plan on the YouVersion app to learn how Jesus can help you with anxiety: https://hegetsusstudies.com/sessions/anxiety/