• Sarah Lyall-Neal PsyD

Anxiety and Your Faith

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Have you ever had the thought "If I just had more faith, I wouldn't worry so much?" I know I have. During times of extreme anxiety, I have found myself praying hard and feeling only short periods of relief before being overwhelmed with anxiety again. Does that mean my faith is weak, well yes and no. I'm a human being so my faith is not perfect, the only perfect being who ever lived and experienced complete faith was Jesus. What is happening in my body and yours when we experience anxiety is more than psychological, it is physiological. Our bodies are hardwired to keep us safe and when we are experiencing anxiety, our self-preservation system kicks in to make sure that we stay alive. This system doesn't know the difference in threats between job stress and being attacked by a lion. If you experience anxiety just know you are in good company.

The story of Job as an example of faith and anxiety

The best way to understand the story of Job, a devout man of strong faith who was tested by Satan, is to read the book of the bible that has his story. Here, I want to simply provide an overview of his experiences. Job was a wealthy man who didn't want for anything and he was faithful to God and gracious with his wealth. He was such a good man that God used him as an example of righteousness when communicating with Satan. Satan being Satan said essentially, "hold up, this man is only good because of the blessings you have given him, if you take away his blessings he'll crumble."

God allowed Satan to test Job on the condition that he didn't take Job's life. Satan took almost everything from Job, to include his children, servants, property, and eventually his health. One thing to keep in mind is that Job was a human being, just like you and me. He suffered and as a part of that suffering, he started to question why these things were happening to him.

As all these bad things are happening to him, a few of Job's friends come over and he starts to discuss the situation with them. His friends don't provide much comfort to him, they essentially all say some variation of the same thing. They say he must have done something wrong to bring this catastrophe on his life. Naturally, Job doesn't care for this feedback and he becomes upset and starts to think about his relationship to God and God's relationship with man (basically he gets pretty existential here). He comes to the realization that he cannot and will not ever understand why God does the things he does.

After a while, with things in his life not improving, Job gets angry at both his friends and God. He actually wants to confront God and ask him essentially why bad things happen to good people like him. Like you and me, he can't see God physically. Although he is reaching the limits of what a person can handle, he continues to pursue wisdom by fearing God and avoiding turning into an evil person. After a period of time God speaks to Job through a whirlwind and explains the creation and also covers the lack of knowledge that humans have about how things work. Job is able to acknowledge God's unlimited power and admit his lack of knowledge and as result is blessed with abundance (twice as much property as before, new children, and a long life).

What does Job's story have to do with you?

The main takeaway is that Job, one of the most righteous men in the bible, experienced anxiety. There are many other examples of biblical figures experiencing anxiety in the bible, but the book of Job captures his experience from start to finish in a relatively succinct manner.

From this book we learn:

  1. Experiencing anxiety during times of uncertainty is completely normal

  2. Bad things happen to good people (cliché I know, but it's true)

  3. Sometimes our friends don't give us the best advice (even those who are well intentioned)

  4. We are never going to understand everything that is happening in our lives (that's where faith comes in)

  5. God is behind everything in our lives and he has a plan!

Are you experiencing stress in your life right now? Are you feeling stuck or confused? Are you wondering what happens next? Take out your bible and read the book of Job. According to your reading speed it should only take a couple hours of your time. Take time to reflect on his experiences and responses. How would tackling your problems with faith instead of fear change your life?

#anxietyandyourfaith #anxietyandfaith #faithbasedcoaching #sarahlyallnealpsyd

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