“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
Faith and fear are not friends.
We are directed to “fear not.” We are told to believe without dismay or despair. And we are commanded to “be anxious for nothing.”
And, though you so badly want to obey, why is it you feel so worried, so on edge, and so afraid?
Because you’re human.
And because God knows His creation well, that’s why His instructions exist in the first place.
When we recognize the fear for what it is, we are not supposed to hold on to it, but to surrender it to God. That’s hard for many people. We worry as though it makes us more prepared or less taken advantage of. Only to feel worn down by the anxiety.
But don’t forget the second half of that verse in Isaiah:
“…I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
We can overcome anxiety with His help.
And His help comes in many forms. God wants you strong and fearless. His directive is not a slap on the hand at how incapable you are, but how powerful and successful you can be with Him.
So, how do you reach a place of “fear not” and “anxious for nothing”? Let’s see…
Essential Keys to Identifying and Understanding Anxiety
It is important that you understand how fear and anxiety are affecting you or getting in your way.
You may not even be aware of how fear has crept between you and your God-given purpose. You may not realize how worry and procrastination keep you from seeking God’s care. And it’s possible that anxious feelings are getting in the way of fruitful and loving relationships meant to enrich your life and bless others.
Thus, when you are aware, you can challenge anxious thoughts as they come. You can confront rather than avoid triggers with full understanding and true recognition of God’s power to move you through your fear.
Ask Yourself, “Is My Fear Rational?”
How would you answer these questions?
Are you almost always worried, on high alert, or tension-filled?
Does anxiety get in the way of your job, education, or family life?
Do you feel burdened by fears or phobias you realize are irrational, yet feel unshakeable?
Are you certain something terrible will happen if specific things aren’t performed a specific way every time?
Do you avoid situations or activities daily to prevent feeling anxious?
Are sudden attacks of upset and panic fairly common?
Are you continually fearing or preparing for impending danger or doom?
Life falls apart, gets scary, and people don’t always come through. Our faith doesn’t shield us from uncertainty or upset.
Answering the questions above with mostly “yes” responses indicates that the unpredictability of life may be taking a larger toll on you than is healthy.
Are You Suffering Mental and Physical Anxiety Symptoms, Too?
In addition to a highly irrational fear response, it is important to check in with your mind and body and recognize these common signs of anxiety as well.
Mental Symptoms include:
Pervasive apprehension or sense of dread
Hypervigilance, constantly on the lookout for danger
Catastrophizing, a tendency toward the worst case scenario
Physical symptoms include:
Dizziness or fainting
Muscle spasms, cramps, tension
Shaking or trembling
A combination of the mental and physical symptoms can be mistaken for a disease or even life-threatening situation.
Panic attacks are often mistaken for heart attacks. Thus, it is important to identify the bulk of these symptoms and gain a clear understanding of how your body reacts to strain, stress, transitions, and trauma.
What to Keep in Mind If You Realize You Need Help with Your Anxiety
Anxiety isn’t “bad”, it is actually a gift when real and present danger exists. In fact, it can be a strong motivator and an aid to your ability to remain alert and deliberate when the pressure is on.
It’s only when anxiety becomes a bully, inserting itself between your goals, responsibilities, and connections with others, that it may become a problem worth addressing.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, research indicates that more than 264 million live with chronic anxiety. Anxiety disorders can develop from a wide variety of risk factors. Heredity, brain chemistry, life experience, and your own unique personality traits can all contribute to ongoing trouble with anxious thoughts and behaviors.
In short, nearly everyone, believer or not, wrestles with some measure of fear and worry. The goal is not to ignore anxiety but to face the triggers and the sources of fear. A catchphrase among therapists is “the thoughts you resist persist.”
Be Willing to Accept Help and Become Strong
“Fear not” is not about forcing fearlessness upon us. It is about being willing to do the daily work of facing fear with Him. He guards and strengthens. He offers His reassurance through His scripture and people.
However anxiety entered your life—even if it just seemed to show up uninvited—relief is possible.
If you hide or deny anxiety, you rob yourself of God’s grace and comfort. And worse? You may open yourself to an unnecessary cycle of shame that could do further damage to your mind and body.
Resist the urge to judge yourself so harshly. God knows your fear, He loves you and He wants to help you.
Every day there is uncertainty to face. It’s okay to need help with fear and to seek help to face it. I would appreciate the opportunity to help you recover your peace and learn to live out your purpose fearlessly, one day at a time.
For more information about anxiety counseling, click here.
About the Author
Julia Nelson, LPCA, LMFTA is a psychotherapist and currently owns a private practice in Flat Rock and Forest City, NC. In general, she specializes in couples counseling, anxiety and depression counseling, and premarital counseling. Julia is also a Certified Clinical Military Counselor. To find out more about Julia, visit Nelson Christian Counseling.
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