Overcoming Anxiety with Peace

Dr. David Jeremiah

Anxiety is one of the defining symptoms of our times.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect forty million adults in the United States, or just over 18 percent of the population. It’s a major factor affecting our general health; people with anxiety disorders go to doctors three to five times more than the general population.

Some anxiety disorders are clinical in origin, springing from genetics, brain chemistry, or both; others are the result of life events and conditions. Whatever their cause, we know rates are rising among all ages, including children and teens. Younger and younger children are being diagnosed with anxiety, while colleges say rates of anxiety are higher than ever among their students. 

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Why is anxiety a growing struggle?

It’s not hard to see why—our world measures, grades, and judges everything young people do. Every social media post is “liked” or not, cyber-bullying is on the rise, and kids feel pressure to achieve like never before.

Seeing the anxiety of those we love can increase our own levels of worry. Dealing with the normal stress of home, work, and life is already a challenge, but at some point we’ll face other pressures too: money worries, job stress, family conflict, traumatic events, addiction, caring for a loved one. Layered over these immediate concerns is the general sense that our world, our country, and our communities are increasingly unsafe, plagued by international conflict, political discord, rising anger and incivility, violence, and even climate uncertainty.

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God's gift of peace in a world of struggle

When it comes to dealing with these fears and stresses, most of us realize that smashing a microwave in a safe room is not going to cut it. Behind this kind of therapy is the idea that our fears and frustrations build tension that can only be released through violence. Certainly, taking a sledge hammer to a TV set is better than taking our emotions out on others, but the theory that anxiety can be banished and peace achieved through the application of violence is simply not true.

In His wisdom, God has provided support for those who need it through medication, counseling, and support groups. I urge you to seek help whenever you or your loved ones need it. A life in Christ does not remove us from the world; it sustains us in it. Thankfully, one of the ways Christ sustains us in this world is through the gift of peace.

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"Whatever Satan observes, he uses to his advantage."

Battling anxiety is like fighting the enemy in close combat in your mind. If you’re unprepared, Satan sees that vulnerability. If you feel doubt, fear, hesitation, or uncertainty, he sees those things too. And whatever Satan observes, he uses to his advantage.

If you struggle with anxiety of any kind, you know that worry can surface many times a day. Maybe it’s a chronic, nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and never will be. Maybe it’s the aftermath of fear and trauma from violence or loss. Perhaps you struggle with a fear of rejection that makes you blurt out hurtful words before you can be hurt. Or maybe you exhaust yourself trying to control every aspect of your and your family’s lives in a vain effort to ease the constant worry and anxiety that hover at the edges of your mind. 

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Becoming an Overcomer

But what would happen if instead of fear and vulnerability, the enemy saw preparation and strength in you? What if he saw certainty, faith, and trust? What if he saw that you, dealing with tough challenges and your own human limitations, were also standing strong in the peace of Christ?

Then the enemy would be facing an Overcomer! And that is what God has designed you to be. Not perfect, not invulnerable, not unaffected by life. But strong, resolute, and successful in your path, able to overcome worry with the peace of Christ. Just as the Roman soldier’s studded shoes anchored him firmly to the ground as he faced his opponent, peace anchors us firmly to God as we face the troubles and uncertainties that assail us in this fallen world.

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What is the peace that Jesus gives us?

The Bible teaches that life apart from Christ has no deep peace. Everyone is aware of this cosmic discomfort to some degree. As British novelist Julian Barnes quipped, “I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him.”

This emptiness has been evident throughout history, even in ancient times when primitive cultures, sensing alienation from the powers above, lived in fear and cringing, believing that storms, earthquakes, and floods were manifestations of divine disapproval. Many of us today have a similar acute awareness that our lives are not right. But when we come to Jesus Christ and put our trust in Him, the Bible says this about us: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

The peace that Jesus is giving to us here is a peace that was purchased at the price of His own blood. It is our legacy because of the cross. He has bequeathed it to all of us. We’re responsible for living in the light of the great provision God has given us in Jesus Christ as our peace. When we do, we know that in Christ there is no condemnation.

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"No matter how much I prayed, read Scripture, or tried to get better, I couldn't snap out of it."

After the birth of Lindsey Carlson’s fifth baby, she began to have full-blown panic attacks. Like one in eight mothers, Lindsey was suffering from postpartum depression, the number one complication of childbirth. Although she’d struggled after the birth of her fourth child, this time was very different.

“This dark valley was more physically painful and threatening than any I’d previously experienced,” Lindsey shared. “I felt like an empty shell of a person. I knew I wasn’t myself, but no matter how much I prayed, read Scripture, or tried to get better, I couldn’t snap out of it.”

As common as it is, postpartum depression (PPD) often goes undiagnosed, partly because symptoms can vary. But according to the American Journal of Clinical Medicine, there’s also another reason: “The majority of undiagnosed cases are probably due to the social stigma of being labeled an ‘unhappy mother,’ not to mention the public image of PPD.”

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Applying the gospel to our condition, while seeking medical help.

Sadly, as Lindsey notes, Christian moms can face an additional barrier to seeking help.

Fortunately, Lindsey had the courage to apply the gospel to her condition, and she sought and received medical help. If you struggle with anxiety, life can seem like a battle. But God understands the extent of your worry. And because of the gospel of peace, the one thing you don’t have to fear is losing His love. Even in the darkest nights of the soul, the God of all peace is with you and for you.

I urge you to embrace these words of the apostle Peter: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7 NIV).

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About the author

Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including A Life Beyond AmazingIs This the End?The Spiritual Warfare Answer BookDavid Jeremiah Morning and Evening DevotionsAirship Genesis Kids Study Bible, and The Jeremiah Study Bible.

Dr. Jeremiah serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren.