Reader, hear me out as I discuss something very uncomfortable for those who need to hear it most: your anxiety is a sin. A very damaging one, at that.
I have been struggling with anxiety disorder for many many years, but did not acknowledge it for what it was until about 2 years ago, and then did not get diagnosed until January of this year. I fought it for many reasons, thinking that medication would make me seem weak or that others might think I wasn't trusting God to heal me of the struggle, not to mention the serious side effects of some anti-anxiety medications. I put off seeing a doctor for a long long time, until I realized how the anxiety I battled was affecting loved ones. I came to a point where the suffering was too much and it was severely changing how I approached each day. Long story short, I got on medication and by the grace of God it has helped with very little side effects.
This is not to say I am cured. The medication treats it, and allows me to think through it rationally, but I still deal with chronic anxiety day in and day out. I will more than likely struggle until I meet Jesus face to face; this is a reality I have joyfully accepted in recent months, because of some things I will explain to you later in this post.
Why My Anxiety is a Sin
Many others may struggle with this and never speak a word, or you may struggle with it and tell others boldly, or you may have no experience with this at all. Regardless of where YOU are coming from, I will tell you lovingly where GOD is coming from. Repeatedly in scripture we are told NOT to be anxious (Matthew 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6, Luke 12:24-31): and there's no asterisk afterwards to explain that a medical diagnosis excuses us from obeying. There's no footnote about how to interpret those verses if you have a real problem with chronic anxiety. It's simple. We are told not to be anxious. And even more, we are told to cast that anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and rid ourselves of it.
If you are anything like me, you're scratching your head. I wrestled with this for longer than I'd like to admit. A loved one confronted me boldly and told me my anxiety was a sin and I needed to repent. I was infuriated. How on earth could this person say I needed to repent of something I couldn't even control? In my mind it wasn't a sin, and therefore, I didn't need to take it to the Lord. I was prideful and blinded by the anxiety to a point where I couldn't even call it what it was. But praise the Lamb! God worked in my heart and opened my eyes to a point where I freely admitted that it indeed was a sin, because after all, you can't argue scripture's validity.
A Few Things to Remember:
a) confessing our sin and calling it what it is frees us from it. Once I was willing to admit that I was sinning by being anxious, I was able to realize that it actually had no power over me (Romans 6:14). Jesus died with all the weight of the sin of all men so that we might turn to him and be freed from it. What a glorious realization that was for me!
b) just because we cannot control something does not mean it isn't sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Maybe anxiety is not a struggle for you, but perhaps lust or frequent cursing is. You would probably say those are near impossible to control too -- and they are, in our own strength. But they're still sin because they dishonor the Lord and make a separation between you and Him. You will feel like the sin that has a grip on you is indeed uncontrollable; that is, until you boldly call it sin and ask the Lord for His help. The truth is we cannot control our sin without God, or do anything for that matter (John 15:5).
c) If you repent of your sin and call on Jesus and truly seek Him, He is going to save you (Romans 10:13), and He is going to sanctify you (1 Thess. 4:3). Let me be very clear here: repentance does not just mean asking for forgiveness. It truly means to turn from your sin (Luke 13:5) and towards Jesus. Let me also be clear that seeking the Lord means reading the bible and reading it humbly, asking the Lord to reveal himself to you through his Word (not trying to make scripture into what you want it to be/say). Seeking means prayer, reading the Word, and obeying the Word. And of course, sanctification is for our good and for God's glory, but we must wisely consider what sanctification is and how it will play out in our lives. We simply should not be shocked when trials come, as we are commanded to count them joy and recognize them as a means of developing our endurance (James 1:2-3).
d) you may not necessarily be healed of your anxiety just because you have confessed it as sin. Does this mean you're totally horrible? Yes. But, God is good enough that it doesn't matter how sinful you are. We are still sinners and being a Christian does exempt you from that. The beauty of the design of our relationships with God is that we will constantly and continually need him and need to call on him to help us combat the sin in our lives. We must remain vigilant in order to recognize the schemes of the devil and then call on Jesus for all peace, wisdom, and healing. It is a daily, hourly, and sometimes even minute-by-minute battle for me; so do not be discouraged. In fact, be encouraged! The King of all Kings is omnipresent, omniscient, and for us - this is the Great I Am, who sent His Son to die for our sins, then rose Him from the dead. This is the same God who lives in us now if we truly believe. Take joy in the fact that you do not have to face your miserable sins without the help of the Lord.
As a request, I beg of you: take these verses I've included and please read them for yourselves. Search the Scriptures and, seek God, but don't just take my word for it. Let your mind and heart be opened to the truths laid out in in the bible, and call your sin exactly what it is. I challenge and encourage you with this, as my loving friend did for me.