I’ve heard that we’re born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. If true, this reinforces the very real fact that we accumulate fears over time. We undoubtedly manufacture some, but life experiences saddle us with the others. From worry to severe anxiety disorders, from run-of-the-mill fears to irrational phobias, we all live somewhere on anxiety’s broad spectrum. We fear heights, spiders, bats, public speaking, rejection letters, financial collapse, negative judgments, loneliness, memory loss—the list is endless. And these fears bang incessantly on the tin roofing of our hearts.

And if anxiety were not paralyzing enough, it brings discouragement along for company. We listen to fear’s lies, fully knowing they are lies. We look in the mirror each morning and wonder when fear will finally stop being an unwanted house guest.

History offers a long list of faithful God-followers who fought anxiety or depression, some for much of their lives—Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Job, Elijah, Jonah, Hannah. Even King David struggled, as evidenced by his psalms, though he had tasted remarkable courage many times, even defeating a lion, a bear, and Goliath. Charles Spurgeon, William Cowper, G. K. Chesterton, and Mother Teresa likewise struggled. Some suffocated so badly beneath the weight that they entertained suicidal thoughts not once, but many times.

Anxiety does not discriminate. It takes the strong and the weak, the cheerful and the melancholy, the spiritual juggernaut and the spiritual lightweight. And addressing the topic is complicated by ambiguity. The line between anxiety and worry, for example, is not as clear as we would like. When is the brain working improperly and when are we simply fretting? When is panic a biological reflex and when is it self-induced?

Those who have fallen down the rabbit hole of depression know the seriousness of anxiety. They also have learned the hard way that the world is uncomfortably silent or unhelpfully trite on the subject. Even Christians squirm around it. Some people are downright flippant in their judgments, shaming vulnerable people into silence rather than serving them.

In a classic Bob Newhart sketch, a young woman seeks counsel for her claustrophobia. She is terribly afraid of being buried alive in a box. He says that his psychotherapy sessions last only five minutes, and they come with two important words which she is to incorporate into her life: “Stop it!” That’s it. To Newhart’s character, recovery is as simple as that.

Those who have never stood on the edge of a mental breakdown and those who have never suffocated beneath depression’s heavy hand find the skit funnier than those who have. If “Stop it!” were all we needed to conquer the giant, Anxiety, then it would not have so many carcass trophies hanging on its wall. And for some strange reason, we still think that anxiety can only be defeated by sheer willpower. Our mortal vantage point is woefully insufficient for helping us deal with our repeated failure to defeat it.

God’s promises provide a new vantage point, a divine perspective that we all need. He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10, NKJV). 1 Peter 5:7 says we can cast the whole weight of our anxieties upon God because we’re his personal concern. Romans 8:28 confirms that promise: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (MEV).

These are not Pollyanna promises. Nor are they mere talismans against dark forces. In a seismic spiritual earthquake, they are the firm, unshakeable ground on which we stand.

Belief in these promises changes how God’s children hear the everyday question, “How are you doing?” If God is faithful to keep his promises, then in an ultimate sense we can truthfully answer, “Everything is going my way.” He intimately uses my circumstances, even the scary ones, for my benefit. All the time. Guaranteed.

Anyone who answers that way risks sounding pompous, or at the very least presumptuous. But what if we answered that way in our minds? Would we start seeing differently? Would we see opportunity where others see limitation? Would we see abundance where others see scarcity? Would our thankfulness, gladness, and peace grow? No matter the circumstances? Perhaps.

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Letters From the Mountain
Letters From the Mountain
Rabbit Room Press
201 pp., 14.41
Buy Letters From the Mountain from Amazon