What do you do when you desperately call out to God in prayer, offering up your worry, your anxiety, your fears, your doubts, your troubles… and yet you feel like it’s not enough?
A couple years ago, I attended a women’s Christmas event at my church which was being led by a new friend, who is a sweet and heartfelt Christian woman. I was so proud of her to take on the task of uniting the women’s groups to participate in this event where we could spend a couple hours amidst the busy hustle and bustle of the holidays to pause and rest in the joy of Jesus.
Her message focused on 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Very fitting for Christmas, or so I thought, being that we women tend to add unnecessary stress to the holidays by worrying about purchasing the perfect gifts, squeezing as many social events onto the calendar as possible, and still trying to teach our family about the reason behind this joyous celebration.
However, that wasn’t the direction the message took.
Instead the jist of it was ‘why do we worry about the day to day when Jesus came here to take our sins and our worries upon himself.’
Still a valid point.
But then she said, “If you really cast all your anxiety on him, you would have no worries.”
Being an individual who has struggled with anxiety her whole life but didn’t know the diagnosis until my late-30s, I sat frozen in my seat.
My heart seemed paralyzed from the words poking me, telling me that I wasn’t a good enough Christian if I was still struggling with anxiety.
Did she think I wanted to worry?
Did she think that anxiety is something that we choose because we have nothing else to do?
Who was she to cast judgment about something that I have prayed and prayed and cried out with pleas for God to take from me, but yet I still struggle?
Luckily, I knew this friend’s story. A story of loss and of tragedy so great that the only place to go was God. He would be the only one to relieve her anxiety.
Still… these words did not sit well with my soul.
Friend, have you ever been in a place where you feel like you have prayed your heart out, you’ve presented your requests to God, you’ve petitioned, you’ve given thanks even despite the pain of hardship… but it hasn’t been enough to free you from your anxiety?
I have wondered what it is that I’m doing wrong.
Why isn’t God answering me?
Is there something I haven’t given over to him?
In questioning myself though, I realized that I have a part to play in this journey as well. I can’t cry out to God to rescue me without partnering with Him to do so.
It reminds me of the joke about the man who asks God for help while drowning. In case you don’t remember this one, let me retell it…
A man goes swimming in the ocean but gets sucked out to sea.
“God, please save me!” he cried.
A boat approaches him and the person on board tells him to climb aboard, but the man says, “I have faith, God will save me.”
Pretty soon a second boat passes by him and tells him to climb aboard, but the man says, “I have faith, God will save me.”
The man is now getting tired, but thankfully a third boat approaches and the person onboard once again tells him to climb aboard, but the man says, “I have faith, God will save me.”
The man dies and goes to Heaven. He asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?”
God replies, “I tried. I sent you three boats, but you refused them all. What more did you expect?”
My point here is that the man was crying out to God to save him, but didn’t see that God was right there with him the whole time. He was sending the boats. He was offering assistance. All the man needed to do was swim over and climb aboard.
Now, relating this to anxiety… let me give you some steps to help you overcome your anxiety.
Do exactly what the Bible tells us to do.
- “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matt 6:25
- “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34
- “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
- “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6
- “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
In a nutshell, the Bible tells us DO NOT WORRY.
Easier said than done, I know.
For some of us, yes, we do bring anxiety on ourselves with the choices we make, such as trying to take too much on. You’ve never done that, have you? For others of us though, worry and anxiety are wired in our DNA. In either case, we are commanded not to cease praying. Don’t stop giving God your worries, cares, concerns, and anxiety. Even if you feel like prayer is not enough, keep praying. And then work with God to overcome it.
Pray not just for God to take the load from you, but ask Him for wisdom.
What is God trying to show you?
Is there something He is needing to reveal in your life?
For me personally, my anxiety wasn’t lifted away, but instead God has turned my struggles with anger and anxiety into fulfilling His purpose in my life which is to help other people overcome their own struggles of anger and anxiety, and ultimately lead them to Him and help them lean into Him.
As if that wasn’t enough, God has also granted me wisdom to stop the generational curse of anxiety in my family. Teaching me how to work through my anxiety, is allowing me to change the direction of our family heritage for future generations.
Ask yourself, “What is it that is causing me anxiety or stress?”
Start making a journal of what is on your heart. As you write things down, ask yourself what is it about that thing that is concerning you so much?
Being self-aware of what the underlying issues are and how the anxiety is manifesting itself in your life (anger, rage, depression, feeling overwhelmed, etc) is the first step to understanding the steps you need to take to overcome it.
Writing these moments of anxiety and triggers down, also gives you some incredibly detailed things to pray about. And can also serve as a guide for steps you’ll need to take to crush whatever is tripping you up and causing your anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Proverbs 12:15 tells us, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that listens to counsel is wise.”
My friend, you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to a Christian counselor, a pastor, or even a friend who can direct you to receiving the help you need and who can pray for you, encourage you, and support you.
Consult your physician and ask for help. This is how I approached help and it was a game changer.
Whether you need medication, counseling, or a prayer partner… don’t be afraid to seek help.
God has promised that we may lead lives of abundance. However, it doesn’t come easy. As soon as sin entered the world, so did thistles and pain in childbirth, and I’m pretty sure that’s when anxiety popped up too.
But Jesus tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Keep the faith, friend. Keep praying even when prayer doesn’t feel like enough. Realize that God’s answers may not take away your anxiety, but may reveal something even greater to you. And know that Jesus has the final victory.
Praying God’s best for you,
Do you struggle with anxiety, feeling angry, or being overwhelmed? Visit MsAlishaCarlson.com for more ways to overcome personal struggles and parenting challenges. Also, check out Alisha’s podcast, Real Mom Talk, a show that brings a little sanity, help, and humor to the insanity we feel as a mom!