Unshakable In the Face of Anxiety

August 29, 2021

“I set the Lord continually before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

A few years ago, the hashtag, #thisiswhatanxietyfeelslike went viral. Thousands around the globe joined the conversation, sharing details of their own battles with anxiety. 

If you could add your voice to the discussion, what would you say?

What does anxiety feel like to you?

Max Lucado’s description resonates with me, “Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs.”  

  • What if my health begins to fail?
  • What if we can’t save our marriage?
  • What if I can’t pay my bills?
  • What if my friends reject me?

On and on the ‘what-ifs’ go, raining down like a cosmic storm of falling stars.  

These “storms” in our minds often cause our bodies to shake. Our voices quiver. Our hands tremble. Our hearts start to race and we can even feel paralyzed with panic and fear. All of these and more can be signs of what is referred to as a “panic attack.” 

One of the best ways to diminish the power of anxiety is found in the Bible.

In today’s verse, King David reveals the one thing that effectively quieted his shaking soul: his close, intimate relationship with the Lord.  

David’s relationship with the Lord was central to every area of his life and integral to his identity. Earlier in the Psalm, he declares, “apart from You I have no good thing,” rightfully recognizing the Lord as the ultimate source of every blessing (16:2). Clearly, David cherished the Giver more than His gifts and experienced deep, abiding joy in His presence (16:11).      

Perhaps if David could articulate how his relationship with God helped him cope with anxiety he would say:  

“Intimacy with Him diminishes anxiety in me.”

Don’t misunderstand, King David’s intimacy with the Lord did not prevent him from ever feeling anxious, but it did help rob anxiety of its power. Maintaining a close walk with God was a way to combat his fear, ease his worried spirit, and keep anxiety at bay.  

Practically speaking, whenever he felt anxiety creeping in, David would “set the Lord continually before him.”  David made an intentional choice to frequently put the Lord in the foreground of his life, staying in constant communion with Him. No matter his situation or activity, he deliberately set his focus on the Lord.  

As a result, David, a man after God’s own heart, felt God’s nearness at his “right hand” and remained unshakable in the face of anxiety.  

In this age of anxiety, where so many things cause my soul to shake, I need what David had. This means I must prioritize my relationship with the Lord above all else. 

I truly believe one reason anxiety is so prevalent is that on the whole, we’ve turned away from God and are attempting to live life without Him. As CS Lewis astutely observes: 

“God cannot give us peace apart from Himself because it is not there.”

The good news is that intimacy with God is not strictly reserved for Bible characters like David, as if it’s an exclusive club for the spiritually elite. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, ‘anxiety-diminishing’ intimacy with God is available to us all. (Read Peter’s powerful proclamation at Pentecost – citing Psalm 16 – beginning in Acts 2:25.) 

So, what can we do?

Just like David, we can seek to live in close fellowship with God, finding a profound sense of peace in His presence that weakens the intensity of our anxiety.  

When the “meteors” of anxiety begin to rain down on our minds, we too can “set the Lord continually before us” and watch the storm begin to fade away.

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH

DISCLAIMER: I’m not offering a foolproof formula for never feeling anxious again. Anxiety is a complex issue with various underlying causes. Oftentimes, there is not a simple, quick-fix solution. In conjunction with developing a more intimate walk with the Lord, we should also take advantage of practical means to help us cope with anxiety such as: exercise, deep breathing techniques, counseling/therapy, and if necessary, medication.