Calm in the Storm: Staying Close to God During Anxiety & Depression is a Guest Post Written By Ylva Schauster
Calm in the Storm – Staying Close to God during Anxiety & Depression
How do you stay rooted in the Word when it’s hard for you to relax and concentrate?
When you’d rather stay in bed all day and struggle with keeping up with your routine?
Anxiety and depression can affect Christians just as much as any other person but way too often, we are only told to pray harder or hear that our struggles are our own fault. In this post, I want to offer encouragement if you are fighting anxiety and depression and share with you 3 tips that help me stay close to God.
Where Do Anxiety & Depression Come From?
Without going too deep into doctrinal and theological matters, one can nevertheless say that mental health struggles, just as other health issues, were not a part of God’s original design. But just like the Fall introduced physical sickness and death, it also came with sicknesses affecting our brains and feelings. We know there is a lot of wickedness, trauma and abuse in the world and it affects our both directly and indirectly.
How Does Anxiety Influence Our Relationship with God?
Bad things can happen to anyone, even when they are blameless and upright (see Job 1:1). While I do not think that depression and anxiety are sinful, it can have similar consequences for our relationship with the Lord.
We feel ashamed when depression decreases our productivity and motivation.
We can withdraw from other Christians who seem to have it all together.
We might feel unworthy of coming into God’s presence until we get up and get back on track.
So how can we counteract these effects and draw closer to Him in the midst of our struggles?
3 Tips for Staying Close to God During Anxiety & Depression
I’d like to share three tips for staying close to God during anxiety and depression.3 Tips for staying close to God during anxiety & depression Click To Tweet
1.) Set Realistic Expectations for Your Quiet Time
If it’s hard for you to have a consistent quiet time or to relate to the topics of a Bible study, it is okay to set a smaller goal and put your bigger plans on hold. Earlier this year, I was invited to a 180-day study on the historical books of the Bible, but soon, the descriptions of war did not help me calm my thoughts at all. After neglecting the study for a week, I finally decided that it was not right for me in this moment. Instead, I asked a friend to do topical devotional plans with me that took 3-7 days to complete. It was a lot easier for me to keep up with my daily quiet time that way.
2.) Avoid triggers
When you are struggling with self-worth and not feeling enough, some chapters and topics like human depravity can hit really hard and amplify your negative self-talk. But as long as you do not decide to cut these chapters out of your Bible forever, it is perfectly fine to avoid them for a while. Not all chapters are equally important for each season of life, but that does not invalidate them. In the same way that there are passages for younger women and passages for older women, there are passages for discipling and calling people to repentance and other passages to encourage and build up. My favorite book to read during hard times is Psalms, because it contains so many different emotions and prayers to God. It encourages me to bring everything before Him, including my depression and anxiety.
3.) Remember that God never leaves you
God does not accompany us just to the entrance of a dark cave or hole and then waits outside until we emerge again. He is with us at all points (see Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20). He already knows what we are struggling with and He stays with us through trial and pain:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. (Psalm 139:8-11 KJV).
Reminding yourself of this truth daily, may it be through verse cards, worship or just directing your thoughts towards it, can help opening up to Him in prayer. We are not telling Him anything new and we cannot hide the status of our heart and feelings. He already knows and will not be mad at us for telling Him.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
The battle against anxiety and depression, no matter if you have been officially diagnosed or not, is a long one. It can take years to uncover old trauma, resolve triggers and rebuild trust in both yourself and others. In many cases, it requires help from licensed counsellors, spiritual counselling, and sometimes even medical attention. But Jesus came for the sick, not for the healthy (see Mark 2:17).
I do not know when my battle will be won or if it will ever be won on this side of heaven. But I know that from an eternal perspective, Jesus has already won the battle for me.I don't know when the battle will end, but I do know Jesus has already won. Click To Tweet
Join the Conversation
What are strategies or verses that help you battle anxiety & depression?
About Ylva Schauster
Ylva, 24, became a Christian at 20. After graduating from university, she is working as a freelance linguist and runs a YouTube/Instagram channel to encourage & empower young women.
If you liked this post, we encourage you to check out Heather Hart’s newest book, Clinging to Jesus. In it, she shares ten ways you can cling to Jesus when you’re in pain, but it is just as applicable for when you’re dealing with anxiety and depression. And Heather knows, because she’s been there, too. Click here to find out more.