I struggle with pretty bad anxiety. There are times I avoid hanging out with people because it gives me so much anxiety. There are times I feel that I just don’t fit in and fear I will be left on the outskirts of any group or conversation. I can find myself very easily overanalyzing everything. Every action and word of mine comes under scrutiny and every response feels like an inditement against me. Many times I struggle to find comfort or ease when I participate and I can feel an emptiness that is hard to describe. It is as if what feels like a botched interaction with others only further proves how alone I am. But God has helped me make tremendous strides with my anxiety. While I find myself interacting more freely, recently those feelings have come into my writing and study of the Word.
I want to share this because I know many others struggle with anxiety. It may also result in withdrawing from things that God has placed in our life or called us to do because of this mental and emotional obstacle. These hinderances seem particularly paralyzing in our role in the Great Commission. Found in Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission commands us to make disciples and teach others of the things Christ has commanded.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
Anxiety and fear try to hem us in where we can no longer reach out to others for the Gospel sake or be less effective in our pursuit. For me, it can take over and I fail to pay attention to the carefully placed, “And remember” placed at the end of Matthew 29:20. Instead I rely on my own strengths and by default focus on my own weaknesses. I lose sight that Christ is with me at all times and it is by His power and authority that I can accomplish His call on my life. The Apostle Paul offers an additional encouragement in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. In talking to the Corinthian church who had become fractured, he reaffirms that the message of the Gospel, not the flare and confidence of the speaker as being of the utmost importance.
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Sound doctrine is always important. It was in the simplicity of the message of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” that Paul spoke truth. Per his own words, he didn’t come to show off his wisdom or intellect but came in weakness that God could be seen. God is much greater than whatever weaknesses we see in ourselves. He has the power to transform us and use us for His glory, just as He did with Paul.
These words don’t cure anxiety, but they can help us navigate through it as we trust in God. Personally, it takes me equipping myself spiritually to fight through hard moments, finding godly counsel, and medication to help my mental health. Every path looks different, but each will require reliance on God. I want to encourage you to begin seeing your anxiety as something you can get through rather than an insurmountable obstacle. Christ said, “And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” Trust in that when you feel fear and anxiety flare up.