What God Says About Anxiety

Written By: Grace Gilson-Vowles


June 12, 2023

A few summers ago, some friends and I were at the beach when suddenly, the Coast Guard swarmed in looking for a man who had gone missing in the water. We, along with the other beachgoers, joined a human chain in the water to search for the man. The next few hours were some of the most nerve-wracking hours of my life. Many other people went missing due to the powerful waves. We helped drag a few of them out of the water, but some did not survive. My friends and I were separated at one point, leaving me increasingly anxious about their safety and well-being.

There are situations where you can’t help but feel anxious, and things that you could never anticipate would happen actually do happen. It showed me how important it is to give everything to God.

Anxiety is “the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread.” [1] It doesn’t have to pertain to a specific event, though. For some, anxiety is a generalized issue unrelated to a particular event. Unfortunately, both types affect me.

Some Christians have told me that being anxious meant I wasn’t putting enough trust in God and that “good Christians don’t worry,” which drastically minimized my anxiety. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Anxiety is not a lack of trust in God. God, through His Word, tells us that we will go through hard times. You will experience situations that make you anxious or nervous. You may even live your everyday life being anxious about something unspecific. When Isaiah writes about the Savior of Israel, he tells us,

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned…” (Isaiah 43:2).

We, as believers, are not exempt from trials. God knew what I would experience at the beach that day, and He knew that it would cause me anxiety. But He also knew I would come out on the other side.

So how does God want us to respond when we are anxious?

We need to acknowledge our anxiety and give it over to Christ. God wants us to lean on Him, bring our cares to Him, and be dependent on Him. 1 Peter 5:6–10 tells us to cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us. In fact, He calls us to bring what we’re worried about to Him so He can give us rest (Matthew 11:28–30), and He promises us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

In her personal blog, Gretchen Saffles, founder of Well-Watered Women, writes, “Just because you struggle with fear and anxiety doesn’t mean God is any less God or you are any less His.” [2]. My being anxious doesn’t mean that I am faithless. Christians aren’t exempt from worry and anxiety, but we have someone to lean on when things are tough.

Jesus is the perfect example of how we should bring our anxiety to God. He experienced gruesome and terrible things during His time on Earth. Jesus’ soul was full of sorrow, and He asked, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before being led to an excruciating death on the cross (Matthew 26:36–44). If Jesus experienced grief, anxiety, suffering, and fear, how can we see Christians struggling with these things and consider it a lack of faith? He sat with God amid that pain and laid it all out for Him, which is exactly what we’re called to do.

We can take refuge in knowing that Jesus knew the struggles that we would face, and He defeated them. There are so many struggles in life that I wish I didn’t have to experience, but I’ve come out on the other side with incredible realizations about who God is.

On the beach that day, during what I would consider to be one of the most terrifying events I’ve ever lived through, the lyrics to the song “It Is Well” swept through my brain: “So let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name. In moments of intense anxiety, I need to put my faith in the One who can calm the waves, the One who can show Himself in any situation, the One who restores my soul and calms me, the One who has been through it all. When you have someone to go to with your anxiety, it seems a whole lot less scary­ because you don’t have to go through things alone. That’s exactly what God calls us to Himself for, and it’s a piece of what Jesus defeated on the cross.

When we take our anxiety to God, He will help us — and He can use our experiences to draw others to Himself. In her blog, Saffles says, “…allow anxiety to point you to your need for Christ and the hope you have in Him.” [2] Your struggles and the way you lean on Christ to overcome them may be an example that helps someone else struggling in the same way. When I recount that day at the beach to someone else — believer or not — God can use my story to help them deal with their own anxiety. The key is to relinquish the anxiety and fear, give it to God, and let things play out according to His perfect plan. If God is always with you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31). I challenge you to go to God, share your struggles with others, and watch how your faith grows.

Don’t buy into the concept that anxiety is a lack of trust in God. Instead, it is an acknowledgment of our lives on Earth and the struggles that we endure here. We don’t need to stay in our anxiety or be okay with it; instead, we can choose to let it draw us closer to the Father. Let God dictate your steps and give everything to Him since He knows you best and His plan is perfect.