By Candace Crabtree, Crosswalk.com
Anxiety and depression are two words that I desperately wish were not in my personal vocabulary and experience. But, they are. God allowed me to walk through several years in the valley of the shadow of death and now that I’m on the other side of it, I believe He had my good in mind. I believe He taught me things in the valley that I could never have learned on the mountaintop. I believe that He wanted to prove to me that I truly am never alone, though I felt it many times. I believe He wanted to teach me that my feelings do not equate truth. God wanted to show me parts of Himself that I might never have known otherwise.
My season of depression is over for now; however, the anxiety can creep in, often unannounced, and leave me reeling. Sometimes the fear is so thick that I just know if I reach out my hands I can touch it. Sometimes the fear and anxiety keep me awake at night.
I know I’m not the only one that struggles. God has taught me much on this journey and I hope that these verses and these words will remind you that you also aren’t alone, you aren’t forsaken, and the God of the universe loves you. He longs for you to trust Him even through seasons where we don’t understand what is happening around us or in us.
For me, praying God’s Word in particular has been one thing that has helped me my heart so much. Sometimes in the depth of despair we don’t feel like we have the words to pray. So, instead, God gives us His own word and we pray it back to Him. The Psalms are specifically helpful when we don't have the words to say and our emotions are overwhelming. We want to be close to God but don’t know how. His Word provides that closeness and nearness of Himself. He gives us Himself through the gift of His Word. His Word can be your lifeline, friend, don’t take it for granted!
Here are some of my favorite verses from Psalmas to pray when I’m struggling with anxiety and worry. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
This passage is so well known to most people, but don’t overlook the profound truth and comfort this Psalm brings to us just because you’ve heard it many times before. Speak the words to God:
“God, You are my shepherd, I lack nothing. You make me lie down in green pastures, You lead me beside still waters, You restore my soul. You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me! Your rod and your staff, they comfort me! You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in Your house forever. Amen.” Psalm 23:1-6
This Psalm is one of my life verses. I’ve struggled a lot with people pleasing which I think leads to anxiety so often. Wondering and worrying and becoming fearful of what others think or what they might do or say about us. We can’t live in that place! We must preach the gospel to ourselves and remind our hearts the The LORD alone is our light and our salvation!
“God, You are my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? You are the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked come against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear!” Psalm 27:1-3
I like to think of this Psalm as the Psalm for the brokenhearted and fearful one. God love the brokenhearted, you know. And we are all broken, by the way.
“I will bless You at all times, Your praise will continually be in my mouth. I sought You, Lord, and You heard me, You delivered me from all my fears. When we look to You we are radiant. Your angels encamp all around those who fear You and You deliver us. Help me to taste and see that You are good, oh Lord. You say I will be blessed when I trust You. Those who seek You lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:1-10
Isn’t it encouraging to read the words of David, a Bible hero, who struggled like we do? That may be one of the reasons the Psalms are my favorite place to camp in God’s Word when I’m struggling. I especially like Psalm 61 in the New King James because of the word “overwhelmed.” I have spent seasons living in an overwhelmed state. When I find myself there, I pray these words:
“Hear my cry, O God; from the ends of the earth I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you are a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy…” Psalm 61:1-3
Psalm 91 is another Psalm with such comfort that helps us learn how much it truly impacts us when we abide in Christ. Psalm 91 tells us that when we abide or dwell in the shelter of the Most High, we can REST in His shadow. He gives us rest from our worry, from our fears, from our anxiety.
“You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2
When the anxiety sets in, repeat some of these verses out loud. Speak them to God. Memorize His Word. Cling to these truths. Repeat to the Lord, “I trust You, I trust You…” and when we abide in Christ, the peace that passes all understanding begins to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-6
Did you catch the beautiful truth in that passage? Prayer brings peace. When we are anxious about anything we are instructed to take it to God - with thanksgiving even! And then? Then, the peace of God, which we may never understand, will GUARD our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Prayer brings peace. Prayer gives us more of Jesus. And that is just what we need in our moments and seasons of anxiety: more of Jesus.
Note - If you or a loved one struggles with anxiety, depression or any mental illness, please reach out for help! Tell someone, a friend, a spouse, or your doctor. There is help, hope and healing available for you! Do not suffer alone.
Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.