Written by Emily Cook of Sutton, Ontario

According to Google dictionary, anxiety is: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

Every day we are asked to perform in a million different ways. You strive to be a good student, a good child, a good sibling, a good athlete, or a good musician. You try to get good grades or excel in sports so you can get scholarships and pay for university. You haven’t even accepted a school’s offer yet and you’re dreaming about the debt you’re going to have. High school is a breeding ground for anxious thoughts.

“Does it make me a bad Christian if I experience anxiety?”

It’s a question I’ve asked myself hundreds, if not thousands of times. We are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). So when pressure starts to build in my chest, my stomach ties up in knots, and I want to cry or scream or run, I wonder if I’m missing something.

A wise person once told me anxiety is God’s way of telling you your trust or identity is resting in something that doesn’t deserve it and can’t hold up under the weight of it (namely, something that’s not God).

So in a nutshell, anxiety is a good thing – a gift, even.

The fact that this verse in Philippians 4 calls us not to be anxious makes me think God knew we would be. So I don’t read this verse as shunning those of us who feel anxious. It’s more about highlighting what our response should be when we feel anxious.

“…but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Anxiety is all about the response. It’s training our thoughts to sense anxiety and recognize it as an early warning signal to re-centre our thinking on the maker of the universe.

This doesn’t mean we can pray for the anxiety to disappear and it always magically will.

Prayer and petition means taking the worries we have and trusting them to God.

It also means asking God to pinpoint what we’re putting our identity in, that’s not Him. Whether it’s success, pleasing people, control, or something else, He wants to get to the root of it, and free you from it.

If this sounds like a hard and uncomfortable process, I won’t lie to you – it is. But the result is so incredibly worth it: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Take a deep breath, let it out in a prayer, and trust God is greater than your anxiety.