Four Comfort for Worried Christians
Depression and anxiety strike people of all walks of life and levels of spiritual development. The Bible shows us how to keep our faith alive through suffering and anxiety. There is a tension here, since while we still face challenges in our Christian walk, we are asked to face them in a unique way compared to people who do not follow Christ.
Meditation on God’s Word, including drawing out its implications, being intrigued about what we read, and making real connections between Scripture and our actual situations, is one method in which we are transformed. Since many different aspects of our lives (including our environment, biology, psychology, and spirituality) contribute to our difficulties, consulting a medical professional may be helpful. However, in Romans 12:2, Paul reassures us that the thoughts we think have a great deal of power to influence the world around us. He urges us to undergo a personal “renewal” by way of refocusing and reorienting our thinking. But how exactly does that refreshment occur?
Recognize and recall
The absence of anxiety, depression, or concern is not guaranteed by reading the Bible. That’s hardly the miraculous change we were told to expect. Even if our circumstances and suffering don’t alter, the gospel nonetheless drives us to become more like Christ. That’s why the actual test of spiritual maturity isn’t the absence of mental health problems, but rather the way we deal with them when they arise. A good example is provided by Lamentations’ author:
My spirit stays bowed down inside me as a constant reminder of [my pain].
But this I remember, and so I am encouraged: The LORD’s steadfast love endures forever; the length of his mercies spans from generation to generation. (Lam. 3:20-22)
Despite the gravity of our pain, we can choose to focus on God’s nature and his promises. When we do this, the Word of God, which is alive and active inside us (Heb. 4:12), begins to reorient our hearts toward him. The Bible has several encouraging teachings. Here are four that have been useful for me as a counselor and my clients.
The true test of spiritual development is not the absence of mental health problems, but rather the way we deal with them when they arise.
1. We are not isolated
My worry and tension make me feel like I don’t have anybody to turn to. The onus of solving this problem rests squarely on my shoulders. However, in the midst of this trial, I may take heart in Christ’s promise to always be there for me (Matt. 28:20).
In times of hardship, this assurance may seem empty, but its theological weight in Christianity must be remembered. The central question of the Bible is how a perfect God can tolerate sinful humans. God cares so deeply about mending his connection with humans that he sacrificed his son to do so. I may feel alone at times, but knowing God is always with me makes me realize that I am never truly alone. He made this a fact by bringing heaven down to earth.
2. We are one in Christ
In order to really embrace Christ, we must consider him a substitute for ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul explains that God “caused him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so we may become the righteousness of God in him.” The instant we put our faith in Christ, He becomes our righteousness. Feelings of despair and worry may make us feel like no one cares about us and lead us to build our self-image on our inability to overcome those feelings. It’s easy for me to forget that my sin is the root of all my problems and that Christ has already freed me from its grasp. God has previously proven his ability to deliver us from harm; he has no reason to withhold his help from us when we face further trials (Rom. 8:32).
It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me; this is the message of the gospel, and it is a truth I am encouraged to embrace. This physical existence that I now have is a gift from God because of the Son of God’s unending love and selfless sacrifice on my behalf (Gal. 2:20). Christ calls us to share his pain and sorrow. Christ gives us the fortitude we need to face whatever the day may bring.
3. We are all connected in a larger narrative of redemption
The Bible’s storyline provides insight about how to make sense of adversity. God places a high value on my anxieties, but they are not the full picture. In fact, the difficulties I’ve encountered have shown me how much I value independence. For God, the solution is only one of a much larger plan. Instead, he is molding me via adversity (Rom. 8:28–29).
Because it reminds me that God’s goals and plan to utilize everything for good persist even in the face of the fallenness of all creation, Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible. That doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free existence for Christians, but it does provide meaning to the pain they endure. God’s unwavering focus is on his own glorification and our sanctification in Christlikeness. Absolutely nothing goes to waste.
4. We believe in a future with God
In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes, “For this light transient suffering is preparing for us an everlasting weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.” Because “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is forever” (2 Cor. 4:17–18).
We may assume that Paul is trying to downplay the seriousness of suffering, yet he has personal experience with its toll. He had been beaten, shipwrecked, deprived of food and sleep, and threatened on all sides (2 Cor. 11:24–28). His stress levels rose to the point that he “despaired of life itself,” according to him (2 Cor. 1:8–9). When Paul calls our suffering “momentary,” he is not speaking from personal experience.
Paul, on the other hand, reaches this conclusion by focusing on eternity. He contrasts the “weight of glory” that is waiting for those who know and follow Christ with the “lightness” and “transience” of his own suffering. Regardless of the outcome of my circumstances or my emotional reaction to them, my hope is in the future glory awaiting me in Christ, not in the lack of tension, anxiety, or despair in the present.
My faith is not in a life free from difficulties but in the glory that is mine in Christ.
Last but not least, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention that it is in the context of meaningful interactions with others that our brains are most effectively renewed. In the very following lines after Paul’s description of the mind-renewing process, he underscores the importance of the church (Rom. 12:3–8). It takes time and experience to be able to glean insights from Scripture and apply them to your own life. Talking about it with a more seasoned Christian or a biblical counselor might be a terrific way to strengthen your grasp on the implications of your beliefs.