We think our life needs to look perfect. We need to have the best grades; the most impressive job; the most Instagrammable life; and be talented in every single way. But, what about stress and anxiety? As Christians, even though we know that our sin means that we’re definitely not perfect, we can make ourselves think that we need to be perfect. We can think that, as followers of Christ, we are supposed to be cool, calm, and collected in every moment of life. So, we either pretend or compare! We pretend that we don’t worry about sitting exams or we don’t freak out at job interviews. We compare the number of likes on our most perfect Instagram, or our talents and personality traits, with our friends. You’ve probably realised that pretending or comparing will eventually add to our stress and anxiety. When we spiral into worry and anxiety, what should we do? We should turn to God’s Word and we should listen to the gospel. The gospel doesn’t promise that life will be perfect, and it makes it really clear that there will be times when we struggle. But, according to Matthew 6:25, the good news of the gospel includes the command to not worry. Jesus clearly states: “I tell you, do not worry about your life”. This is HARD! Let’s look at four things that we can remember, think about, and know when stress and anxiety seem overwhelming:
- Know that you are not alone – God is with us.
For Christians, this is always true. You might not feel anxious or stressed that often or you might feel worry and afraid every second of every day. But, no matter where you find yourself, you need to know that you are never alone because God is always with His people. God promises us, in His word, that He will be with us. Take Psalm 46, for example. In Psalm 46, the whole world is turning upside down: mountains are falling, the sea is roaring, the earth is quaking, the nations are raging. This Psalm reminds us that in all of this chaos, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (46:7). Our God is a God who has been faithful with His people from the very beginning. He is with us in the same way that He was with the heroes of the Old Testament (46:11). This Almighty God, the Lord of hosts, is with us even in the most difficult of times. When you feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, know that God is with you! He knows you, and He knows everything that you are going through, and He is your strength.
- Know there is comfort – God’s Word brings comfort.
God calls us to know Him through Jesus’ death, for us, on the Cross. If we are His children through Jesus, then we can know that He loves us and expect that He’ll bring us comfort. But, where do you find this comfort? Where is it when you are worried about tomorrow’s exam? Where is this comfort when you see all the ‘perfect’ things that other people have on Instagram? Where is this comfort when you don’t know what you are going to do next year? In all of our worry and anxiety, God has given us a certain source of comfort - His Word. So, open God’s Word because it is written to bring us comfort. Sometimes, it brings us comfort by giving us the big picture of what God is doing when we feel stressed or anxious. Romans 8:28, for example, reminds us that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Sometimes, it brings us comfort by reminding us that other Christians have struggled in the same way. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, for example, shows us that Paul was “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”. Ultimately, it brings us comfort by making us confident in God’s character: He really knows us and He really loves us. Psalm 139, for example, tells us that we are intimately loved by God. God’s Word brings us a certain comfort when we are stressed and anxious.
- Know there is security – God is faithful.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that God is eternally the same. Stress and anxiety fill us with dread and fear; but our God literally does not change! He will not get tired. He will not get distracted. He will not forget about you. Psalm 121 tells us we can fix our eyes on God, knowing that our help comes from Him, knowing that He won’t slumber or sleep. Instead, He will keep us safe! When you’re stressed or anxious, you can know that your life is totally secure because God is unchangingly faithful. You have security in the love that comes from our faithful and sovereign God.
- Know there is Hope – stress and anxiety won’t last forever.
We can live confidently with hope that any stressful situation or anxiety that we deal with will not last forever. God has promised the perfection of heaven for those who know and love Him. When you are dealing with worry or fear, you can remember that God has promised an eternity of perfect stress-free life with Him. 1 Peter 1:3-4 reminds us that, while we experience some of this now, the best is yet to come: God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
Reading this article isn’t going to immediately remove your anxious thoughts or take away worry forever. But, I hope and pray that, as you journey through any difficult times that may arise, you will know you are not alone; that there is comfort and security in God; and that it will not last forever.