Jesus and My Anxiety

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 20, 2023
Jesus and My Anxiety

Jesus loves me. Jesus sees me. Jesus knows this is a thorn I've been given to wrestle. But in this weakness, He will receive glory for how He's still using me. 

I've struggled with anxiety since childhood. No matter how hard I've prayed, cried, or pleaded with God to take it away, its presence in my life has existed. As a teenager, I used to think the more I read my Bible, engulfed myself in Church services, volunteered, and served, the more my anxiety would dissipate. That was what everyone around me told me, and I believed them.

  • "Just don't worry, Amber."
  • "Give it to God, and go to sleep."
  • "Have more faith, and all will go well for you."

What well-meaning people who utter such phrases fail to realize is the stark difference between everyday worry and diagnosed anxiety disorder. The words of Philippians 4 can soothe things far beyond the average anxieties most experience daily—the kind which dissolves with the antidotes of prayer and gratefulness. 

For myself and many others, the anxiety I write about is a classified mental disorder. It's clinical, something one genuinely can't "stop thinking or worrying about," as hard as one might try. It's far beyond the worldly anxieties of Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (New International Version) 

Or, Matthew 6:25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes" verse 25 here; New International Version)?   

The Link Between Anxiety and Fear

 I heard a sermon once that illustrated anxiety rooted in fear in this way. Sometimes, we as humans grow fearful. I will attest that most anxiety, whether generalized or obsessive-compulsive, is rooted in fear. Those with high-functioning anxiety can't seem to slow down. Everything is red, inflamed, and on fire, and it needs to be done right now. There is little prioritization. The fire must be put out as quickly and efficiently as possible, even if it is only in their mind.

Anxiety for the high-functioning soul looks and feels something like this: 

  • How can I multi-task to get as many things done as possible?
  • I was going to work on my paper right now, but Mom just brought clothes into my room, and if I don't stop and put them away now, my room will look messy. And if it's messy, I can't breathe. I'm lazy. Things need to be done. 
  • I need to hang all these clothes now, even though it's past lunchtime and I've worked through lunch every day for the last week. 
  • The thought that I should be reading my Bible more appears in my mind, no matter the time I spend in the Word. It doesn't even phase me that an inner drive of "how can I get ahead," even in my spiritual life, isn't healthy. 
  • The workout I completed wasn't hard enough. I didn't perform well enough. And I should've practiced, performed, and pushed a little harder. 
  • I want to have fun with my significant other, but all I can think about is the to-do's piling in my mind. I know they aren't all urgent, but something within tells me they are. 

The list goes on and on. And as the lists pile, my breathing shallows, my pace quickens, and the catastrophizing panic attacks set in. I know this because I've lived with this clinical disorder almost daily for the past few years. I've also seen it in my Mom for decades. 

Those with obsessive-compulsive anxiety, on the other hand, feel compelled to check, double-check, and triple-check things repeatedly. They can't quite explain it, but something within them forces them to check things continually or completely avoid their to-do lists. 

  • Did I turn the curling iron off?
  • Did I make sure my car was locked?
  • Do I have everything I need for this trip?
  • How am I going to do this perfectly?

Both forms of anxiety are clinical and often driven by fear, even if that fear is unnamed and unseen. You can think of it using this illustration: I used to be terrified of sleeping in the dark when I was a little girl. But despite the number of nightlights, glowing stars on my ceiling, and times my Dad would tell me nothing was under the bed or in the closet, I wouldn't believe him. Not until I'd squirmed into the middle of their bed or brought Mom into my room to comfort me would I drift off into any peaceful, blissful sleep. 

The Problem with Many Solutions to Mental Health

Because the problem with clinical anxiety is that the more we give into it, the more it feeds the fire into flame, yet facing these clinical beasts isn't as simple as telling someone not to cry over their spilled milk. And unfortunately, it isn't as simple as telling them to pray more and worry less. If you're struggling with the intersection of faith and mental health today, I want you to know that you are not alone. But beyond the care, empathy, or encouragement I could offer you, I want to point you to the source of peace Himself. 

I am a Christian who believes in God's powerful healing and mighty hand. I'm confident Jesus saved my soul by paying for my sins on the cross. He rose again and has given that freedom to anyone who believes. But Jesus is not ashamed of me for my struggles with anxiety or depression, nor is He scolding or condemning me for my worries. He's also not looking down on me and telling me, "Amber, you didn't read your Bible long enough or say sufficient enough prayers today." 

Yes, these spiritual disciplines are essential and crucial to our walk with Him, and we need to engage in them, but forcing ourselves to do more when we're already hanging on by threads isn't of God, His Will, or His love for us. Jesus loves me. Jesus sees me. Jesus knows this is a thorn I've been given to wrestle. But in this weakness, He will receive glory for how He's still using me. Faithful to me. He is helping me to help others who also struggle. And He will do the same in and through you.

A Call to True Connection

The connection between faith and mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, or OCD is often challenging to talk about in Christian circles. Over the years, I've received a lot of hurtful words about my struggles. Words that have pierced my side and certainly not supported me in Christ. And those words often came from Christians. 

But I've learned that clinical anxiety or depression isn't a choice any more than someone diagnosed unexpectedly with cancer or diabetes. Both need support, love, concern, and care from genuine people, and both need proper treatment, healing, and providence beyond the spiritual practices of prayer, Bible reading, and going to Church. They need a true call to connection where we build each other up in the Lord and the resources He's blessed us with. 

Just like little Amber, who needed her Mom or Dad to sit with her in the dark, I hope you'll be encouraged to reach out to those who can sit with you where you are today. And if you fail to find them, please know I've been there. I'm sitting with you, wherever you are, and so is the Lord.

Even There, His Presence Will Be

God knows all about dark places. Even in the dark places we don't choose or ask to be in, yet often find ourselves regardless. And He will bring light to that darkness. 

Even if I suffer from clinical anxiety and depression the rest of my days, I am comforted that at the end of every long day and weary night, God is still who He says He is, regardless of where I am or what I'm experiencing. And if my healing comes now or on the other side of Heaven, He loves and cares for me the same.

Mental or physical struggles, He sees my pain. He sees my efforts. He sees simple prayers and long-winded ones. He sees hour-long Bible study sessions and the times I can barely strengthen myself to focus for ten minutes. 

He sees me receiving help from a counselor and looking into medication. He sees me using the resources He's blessed me with and digging deep into spiritual practices.

And though my struggles may last through the night, He deeply and intimately loves me the same. Because of who He is. Because of what He's done. And because of what He plans for me.

 Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/fizkes

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at