What to Say to an Anxious Heart
Isaiah 35:3-4 says:
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. (KJV, emphasis mine)
The ESV says: Say to those who have an anxious heart…
What are you telling your anxious heart?
As someone who has battled hormonal anxiety, I understand not all anxiety is created equal. When I’m suffering with anxiety, most of the time I have done things right, and spiritually I have faith in God. The hormones and chemicals in my brain keep me from feeling assured and calm. In those moments, I truly believe anxiety is not a sin. When anxiety is replacing faith in God, then we can know sin might be a part of our feelings. Only you and the Lord can know if the anxiety you feel is a sin. No matter what is causing your heart to be anxious, try some of these things to help you find peace in the moment:
1. Speak aloud a Bible verse.
2. Whisper a prayer.
3. Ask (or text) a friend to pray for you.
The truth can fight the anxious thoughts. And if an anxious thought begins to roll around in our brains and we are dwelling on these thoughts (day after day) this can turn into worry. And the more I’ve thought about and read about worry, the more I believe some worry is absolutely sin. When we worry, we are saying: God you are not going to take care of this (or me). But God has promised to take care of this. So are we calling God a liar when we worry? The lies will come, but they do not have to be the loudest voices in our heads.
In the dark, when the lies start coming in, we can fight them with truth. The truth is: I can’t do it all, but Jesus is with me. As you might guess, I’m a concrete person. So sometimes I can’t feel the presence of the Savior. In those moments, I get out the physical book of the Bible and open the pages. I find the verses I know are directly for me. I read them. I hear them. I listen to the truth living in those words.
When the storm of anxiety is threatening my little life, I lift my eyes to the Savior and praise His name. I turn some worship music on, ignore the sighs from my children, and turn up the volume as I wash dishes. I listen to TRUTH in song.
Many times, like the nation of Israel in Isaiah, I had piled too much into my life that God was the last. Returning means to go back to where you used to be. The nation God had chosen had once lived the way God designed. They had not only obeyed, they had done so with their whole hearts and with enthusiasm!
Looking back, I remember a time in college when I just didn’t do devotions, I set my alarm a full hour before I had to leave for class. I would take a two-minute shower, and be ready in fifteen minutes. The rest of the time was spent reading God’s word, journaling, and praying. It was a time of intense spiritual growth. The seasons of our life change, and as a mom with five little ones following me around, I wish I could go back to that room on Circle Drive. The one with my computer, daybed and posters on the wall. God seemed closer in those days.
God isn’t closer. In fact, God is always there. It is I who drift away. Like a little boat leaving the shore, sometimes the wind of circumstances draw me away. The job changes, family changes, and seasons shift. Getting back into a routine with God is hard. But here I am, trying to return. Sometimes we need to give up some things in order to find time for God. For me, God is asking me to give up some sleep. Just 15 extra minutes each morning to meet Him with my coffee cup in hand.
Speak strength in the storm.
Remember always that there are two things which are more utterly incompatible even than oil and water, and these two are trust and worry. Can you call it trust, when you have given the saving and keeping of your soul into the hands of God, if day after day you are spending hours of anxious thought and questionings about the matter? When believers really trust anything, they cease to worry about the thing they have trusted. – Hannah W. Smith