A Letter to the Christian with Anxiety
BY GRETCHEN SAFFLES
Author’s Note: I’ve wanted to write this for a while, but I haven’t quite found the words to say. My struggle with anxiety has been a vulnerable journey, and I once feared that I would be judged for battling anxiety as a Christian leader in women’s ministry. However, when we hesitate to share about God’s rescue, we give Satan victory. Christ’s definitive rescue on the Cross is still available to us today, and he still has the power to shatter strongholds. Fearing the Lord ultimately triumphs over the fear of man, and my fear of God has increased since the days when I was too afraid to share. So here goes, my heart in writing as a testimony that God saves, and he is powerful enough to redeem you from the stronghold of anxiety.
Dear Christian Who Struggles with Anxiety,
I know the war within, the wrestlings of your heart, the torrent of thoughts that can seem unrelenting, the profound guilt for having anxiety while at the same time loving Jesus. I know the battle to cover up your brokenness, to sweep the struggle under the rug, to continue to act as if you have it all together. I know the lies that imprison you in shame, the accusations the enemy hurls at your soul day after day, the misguided beliefs that “Christians never struggle,” “good Christians never fear or worry,” and “Jesus followers don’t give way to ‘bad emotions.’”
For most of my life, I believed these lies wholeheartedly, living like a Pharisee at heart, trying to earn the love of my Father in heaven, not truly grasping the free gift of grace found in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). After I surrendered my life to Jesus twenty years ago, I thought I’d never struggle with sin again. After all, I had the answer—I had Jesus. What I didn’t grasp until much later was the truth that, although I am already free, whole, secure, and made new in Christ, the full reality of this transformation is also progressive, a daily renewal as I am sanctified to become like Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). While I am already these things because of Christ’s shed blood that covers my life, I am also not yet perfect—still awaiting full glory with Jesus in eternity. Oh, how I cannot wait for the day when anxiety will be forever put to rest and peace will be forever blessed (Revelation 21:4)!
The struggles of your heart are real, but your Savior’s power to heal is stronger. If he was strong enough to conquer death, then he is surely strong enough to conquer the stronghold of anxiety. But this victory will not be overnight. You are a work in progress, under construction, becoming more like Jesus through every tear shed and trial survived. When you fail, God doesn’t look at you with disdain or disappointment. He sees his Son covering your sins—past, present, and future. He is remaking your heart, renewing your mind, and reviving your soul as you come to his Word of truth (Romans 12:1-2). You are not a failure in Christ because he is at work within you, waging war on your behalf and leading you toward eternal victory. Ultimately, you are a victor because Christ has already won the battle, and his victory is now yours (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Even in the moments when fears wrap around you, he is with you (Isaiah 41:10). In the moments when worries barrage your soul and rain down on your hope, he is for you (Romans 8:31). Just because you struggle with fear and anxiety, it doesn’t mean God is any less God or you are any less his. It means you are a human, redeemed by the blood of his Son and being sanctified day by day. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you receive a “get out of fear, trouble, suffering, or worry” card. What it does mean is you have all you need to respond with faith, hope, and trust in life’s twists and turns.
The truth is you’re still going to struggle while your soul resides in this human body. The unexpected will come, and you will feel the pull to worry about things out of your control, but by God’s grace, you’ll become more and more like Jesus, surrendered to God’s plan every single day. Life is a training ground teaching us that we are not in control, but we know who God is and that he loves and cares for us.
In your struggle against anxiety, remember these truths from the Word that never fails:
- Jesus knew you would struggle with anxiety. The Creator of all things spoke directly to the anxieties of the human heart all throughout the Word, reminding us and pointing us to trust in him. He would not have told us to cast our cares on him, to seek first the kingdom, and to rejoice always, giving thanks to God as we bring our petitions before the throne, had he not known this would be a battle (Philippians 4:4-7). We have his Word, the sword of the Spirit, that has the power to pierce the soul (Hebrews 4:12). Through knowing God’s Word and believing it, we battle unbelief and fear. Through believing God’s Word, we strike down anxiety’s lies. As you read God’s Word, plant truth where lies ravaged peace. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, and bring trusted friends into your battle to pray, speak truth, and walk with you in the valley.
- Jesus fights for you and has won the battle at the Cross. You are not alone in your struggle. Trust me, Satan will do his very best to isolate you, attack you, and insult you. Don’t let him have the final say! You are never alone and never on your own. Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, battled anxiety and depression. One of the most profound Christian teachers struggled in the depths, just like you and I do. One day he would stand in front of the congregation and preach a powerful word from Scripture, and the next he would sink into the depths of despair. Was he any less of a Christian? No, not at all. Dare I say, he was a man fully aware of his humanity, his fallenness, his struggle in the present moment, but he was also tethered to the fact that God had given him new life in Christ. He didn’t stay in his anxiety and depression. He ran back to God and rode the waves with him. In every high and every low, there was no place God would not go with him, and the same is true for you.
A day is coming when there will be no more anxiety, no more wrestlings in the soul, no more barrages of “what if” thoughts and worries, because we will be forever with Christ (Revelation 21:4). Until then, we wrestle not in our own strength but with the help of God. Allow anxiety to point you to your need for Christ and the hope you have in him. Anxiety is not your identity, and it is not the end of your story. Cling to Truth and speak God’s Word over your fears. And the next time anxiety comes, remember Christ crucified, risen, and reigning. Go to battle under Jesus’ victory, and when your soul is wounded, weary, and weak, rest in him who always brings the sun back out to shine. Surely, he will cause the light of his Word to shine on your heart and blow away the clouds of fear.
Your sister journeying with you,
To read more from Gretchen, purchase her newly released book, "The Well Watered Woman: Rooted in Truth, Growing in Grace, and Flourishing in Faith."