You Can’t Anxiety Attack Your Way Out of God’s Love

It would be easy for me to let you get cozy with our anxiety, so let’s make a deal. I’m going to aim for the jugular, and then I’m gonna bandage it up all nice and good.

Ready? Here it goes.

God doesn’t like your anxiety, your anxiety is rooted in sin, and you’re not supposed to feel this way.

I want to make sure I’m really clear so you don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I don’t think we can make a blanket statement that someone is sinning when they face anxiety. I’ve had lots of friends tell me battling anxiety is committing a sin. It certainly can be, but I don’t think it is always the case.

Especially for those of us who are affected by some kind of biologically-induced anxiety, we don’t always choose to be anxious. And the honest truth is that many of us—short of a miracle—will be forever subjected to anxiety as long as we dwell in these sin-marred bodies.

For the sake of this article, let’s make a distinction between “worry” and “anxiety.”

Intentional, willful worry flies in the face of your blood-bought adoption into God’s family. Your worry God will not sustain you in an assault on His sovereignty. When we let our worry eclipse our trust in God, we are acting as if we could do better.

The Bible talks about worry in a couple places. In two of the clearer passages, we’re told point blank that we shouldn’t worry. Paul tells us we should pray instead of worrying (Phil. 4:6), and there’s a time where Jesus talks about how much more loved we are than the ravens and lilies of the field (Luke 12:24–27). Because of our security in Christ, we have no reason to worry. In fact, there’s pretty sufficient biblical reason to think worry is a bad thing.

But what about those of us who are anxious? What do we do? What about those of us whose typical response is something along the lines of, “I have a really hard time believing God is going to sustain me, but He says that He will, and I must trust in that?”

Here’s where it gets a little trickier.

Lots of us face anxiety beyond our control. For many of us, it actually is beyond our control because it’s the result of a hormonal imbalance. But even when we don’t fall into the trap of worry, anxiety is still the result of sin in the biggest, most holistic sense of the term.

Anxiety wasn’t hardcoded into our DNA. In our hearts, we were to honor and trust in the One who created us. But anxiety snuck into us through the serpent’s venom, and it spread to the rest of us like a vitriolic disease.

Anxiety was never supposed to be part of our genetic or spiritual makeup, and it only haunts us because of sin’s entrance into the world.

When we have a biblically robust understanding of the way sin affects the created order, we have to admit that sin affects our minds, too. Anxiety doesn’t just exist; it’s caused by sin’s entrance into the world through the serpent’s tempting of Adam and Eve. Even though anxiety isn’t the result of your sin in the same way worry is, it is the result of sin nonetheless.

Stop Taking Your Spiritual Temperature

Now, I told you I would bandage you up. Here’s the good part.

To act like God would be more satisfied in your anxious self if you “believed harder” (whatever that even means) would be acting as if you contributed to your salvation, and to think you did anything to be loved by God is asinine. God’s love for you has absolutely nothing to do with your lovableness. Your rest is secured not by the degree to which you feel restful; your rest is secured by Christ’s sacrifice. God will never forsake you because you were too anxious.

Your rest is secured not by the degree to which you feel restful. Click to Tweet

If anxiety snuck in through the serpent’s venom, its potency was titrated when it met Christ’s blood.

You can have as many anxiety attacks as your body could take, but you could never anxiety attack your way out of God’s love. Not even if you tried.

Look at what Eugene Peterson says about this very topic:

The only serious mistake we can make when illness comes, when anxiety threatens, when conflict disturbs our relationships with others is to conclude that God has gotten bored looking after us and has shifted his attention to a more exciting Christian, or that God has become disgusted with our meandering obedience and decided to let us fend for ourselves for a while . . . The mistake we so often make is thinking that God’s interest and care for us waxes and wanes according to our spiritual temperature.[1]

God can’t stop loving you. It’s impossible. Whether your spiritual temperature breaks the thermometer or freezes the mercury inside, Jesus’s blood covers you. God gave us good examples in the lilies and the ravens—but He gave us an even better one in the cross. Look to it.

Stop taking your spiritual temperature so much. Seek first His kingdom and know that you can look forward to the day you will be at home with Christ.

Anglican hymn writer John Newton compares the Christian to an oak tree, “the progress of which is hardly perceptible, but in time becomes a great deep-rooted tree.” Taking your spiritual temperature every single day would be like measuring a tree sprout morning by morning: it will leave you disheartened when the inner growth doesn’t show itself on the outside.

You can (and should) kill your worry daily. You may never kill your anxiety as long as you live. But know your resurrected body will be absent of both because Christ has defeated sin, and you will finally be at rest at home with Him.

[1] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 43–44.

Cody Barnhart (@codygbarnhart) lives in Maryville, Tennessee, and is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He attends Pleasant Grove at College Street, where he is a church planting intern.