I'll start this post off with a little disclaimer: while I am saying that anxiety most definitely can come from the enemy, I am not saying ALL anxiety is a direct spiritual anxiety. Anxiety and depression are also medical realities and a result of a broken world. In this post I won't be discussing medical anxiety, because that's not something I've ever been diagnosed with, and I am super not qualified to give any sort of medical advice. Not that I'm particularly qualified to give spiritual advice either, but I'm going to share my experience anyway.
When Anxiety Attacks
As I said, I’ve never been diagnosed with anxiety or anything like that. The anxiety that I’ve had to deal with throughout my life is just your typical, run-of-the-mill, stress-induced worry. Until now.
I experienced a week of such intense anxiety, that I was sure it was going to kill me, but that was okay because a lifetime of this feeling wasn’t looking too good. I was in a permanent fight-or-flight state. My heart was pounding, my mind was racing, it was hard to breathe, and no amount of deep breaths was calming me down. It was hard to do anything – even standing was an effort.
Where was this coming from?
There were some things going on in my life that were a bit stressful, but weren’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before. It certainly shouldn’t have been enough to plunge me into such a state. I even considered blaming too much coffee (I’m not a regular coffee drinker, so caffeine can still really get me sometimes) or the smoke drifting into our area from the massive forest fires to the west.
Friends, sometimes I’m a bit slow.
After a week of this, I finally sat down with God (I had been “too busy” for some good quiet time), and it finally became clear that this anxiety was not medical or worldly – it was an attack straight from the devil.
Watch my video below to hear what happened next.
This Is How I Fight My Battles
So, if you watched the video, you’ll know that I fought against my spiritual anxiety with the two W’s: the Word and Worship.
Attacks from the enemy SUCK. But the good news is that he is so weak next to our God. God is fighting for us and with us against the enemy.
Fighting takes a little bit of effort on our part, but really, God does all the heavy lifting. So, here’s what our part in it all is.
One way that I look at worship is telling God the truth about Himself. Saying it like that sounds a bit silly (like, doesn’t God know the truth about Himself already?), but it’s more to remind ourselves and give God the glory. Just as the creatures in heaven in Revelation 4 call God “Holy, holy, holy” in worship we should recognize God’s holiness, worthiness, power, faithfulness, and glory.
Worship is all about WHO God is. When we worship like this, reminding ourselves of God’s character, we remember who it is that is on our side. The fight has already been won.
These are the songs that I listened to and sang on repeat that morning (and for a few days after):
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us. That is an incredible amount of power that we have to fight with. We have that power because the Holy Spirit is in us, given to us by God. If God is fighting with us, who is there that could possibly beat us? Even though we are being attacked, we are protected by God – the enemy can try to attack us, but he cannot destroy us.
Isaiah 61:3 talks about putting on “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” When we recognize the goodness of God and praise Him for it, we begin to see His goodness in our lives. Any despair or anxiety that is trying to steal our joy in God is banished by our praise.
If worship is about recognizing the truth about God, I think the word is about recognizing the truth about ourselves.
I had a major light bulb moment during my quiet time/fighting time. If you’re anything like me, the armour of God passage (Ephesians 6:10-18) is a very familiar passage. It was a favourite Sunday School topic and I know the song and everything. The armour of God sounds great – but I think sometimes it’s not so obvious how to apply it practically to our lives.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist... – Ephesians 6:14a NIV
I was reading through this passage – good spiritual warfare passage (I say this half sarcastically, because it’s a bit of a cliché, but also entirely sincerely, because if we truly understood it, it is insanely powerful) – and I couldn’t even get past the first article of armour.
Okay, honestly, this had become such a familiar passage to me that in the past I kind of glazed over it, like yeah, armour of God, got it. Sometimes I’ve tried to look at it a bit deeper (belt of truth – we have to know the truth about Jesus, it holds everything together), but I still didn’t fully get it. I wouldn’t say I even fully get it now. But I understand it more.
Satan is the father of lies, so truth is going to be one of our most powerful weapons against him. I was struggling with this anxiety because I had believed all these little lies that he had whispered to me – I wasn’t good enough, things weren’t going to work out, I wasn’t going to be able to finish everything I had committed to, I was weak and falling apart.
As Christians, I think we often “know” the truth, but it becomes unconscious and we kind of forget. When we are fighting, I think it so powerful to not just know the truth but to SPEAK it.
In worship we speak the truth about God.
In the Word, we can read and speak the truth about God and ourselves.
Here are some truths I spoke over myself:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10 NIV
SAY: Even though my world is shaking, even if things may be taken from me, God’s love and peace will never be taken from me.
No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 54:17 NIV
SAY: God is protecting me and nothing that attacks me can destroy me.
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. –Psalm 143:7-9 NLT
SAY: God hears me and answers me. He is with me. He loves me and is worthy of my trust. He will show me where to go and what to do. He will save me. I am loved and protected.
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. – Psalm 139:7-10 NLT
SAY: God is with me all the time, no matter what! He is always with me, guiding and supporting me. I am not alone.
Fighting the Anxiety
After I spent my morning in the Word and worship, it is amazing how quickly my anxiety disappeared.
Attacks of the enemy are borne of lies. To fight against them, we need the truth – the truth about God and the truth about ourselves in God. When we cover ourselves in truth, the lies can’t get to us.
How do you fight against moments of anxiety?