Does Having Anxiety Make Me a Bad Christian? Let's Talk About Spirituality and Mental Health
by Abigail Workman
If you’ve struggled with mental health issues or love someone who’s struggling with them, you know every day can feel like an uphill battle. Even worse, these mental battles try to convince you that you’re a bad Christian when it’s just not true. So, it’s time to talk about spirituality and mental health, because the truth is, you’re not alone.
In this guide, we’ll provide lots of resources for anyone struggling with a variety of mental health issues. First, please know this:
This resource is designed to help you navigate spirituality and mental health. Mental health looks different for everyone and this article should not be used in place of a clinical diagnosis. If your symptoms are getting in the way of daily functioning in the areas of work, sleep, health, relationships, or emotional well-being, it is best to talk to your doctor or a professional counselor.
God Cares About Your Mental Health
Also, know this: Healing will take time, and this article isn’t a one-stop shop to cure everything you’ve struggled with for years. But we do want to provide you with some truths and some resources—from a spiritual perspective—that might help you take a next step toward healing. Before we go on though you need to know, you are not a bad Christian because you are walking with a mental illness. You wouldn’t feel bad about breaking a bone or coming down with the flu, so do not let the enemy trick you into believing that you are “bad” because you have a mental illness.
So let’s talk about spirituality and mental health, because Scripture is filled with mental health struggles we can learn from. We’re going to look at Scripture, find some biblical truths, and pray for the truths to become rooted in our hearts and our minds.
Spiritual Truths for Battling Anxiety
Anxiety looks different day by day. Sometimes, it looks like being curled up on the bathroom floor. Other times, it’s an overwhelming sense of nothing—numb beyond words. In both situations, it’s easy to believe the lie that I’m a bad Christian because I’m not “trusting God enough,” or not “fully casting my burdens on Him.”
Anxiety also ebbs and flows in different seasons. When it gets worse, sometimes journaling prayers that resemble pleas for help—freedom from my own mind.
Thankfully, by the grace of God, I am surrounded and supported by an incredible community.
But I share this to let you know that I get it. The shame you may be feeling—that’s real. The desperation and white-knuckle hold you have on anything that resembles hope—that’s real. But I promise you—there is hope.
God has a purpose for your pain, even if it was never part of your plan.
Regardless of how it happened, maybe the enemy has tried planting seeds of worry, apathy, and self-hatred in your heart. But no matter what your story looks like, there’s always hope. God has a purpose for your pain, even if it was never part of your plan.
So, let’s get practical about this, shall we?
Anxiety, like many mental illnesses, looks different for different people. For me, it’s very much an internal battle of racing thoughts, endless to-do lists, and shortness of breath. For someone else, it’s sleepless nights that end in panic. And for others, it manifests itself in the form of OCD or Tourette Syndrome.
No matter what it may look like for you, it’s incredibly easy to get stuck in a cycle of anxious thoughts.
And when you’re caught in the middle of an anxious spiral, you can convince yourself you’re the only one struggling. Or you can even start spiraling about your spiral.
But have you ever noticed how often the Bible talks about worry, fear, and anxiety? I have a theory it’s because God knows it’s an easy way for the enemy to attack us. If the enemy can get us to take even a glance away from God and toward our fears, we can easily drown.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:28-30 NIV
We may not find ourselves walking on water anytime soon, but the fear Peter felt as he cried out to Jesus was real. And as long as we’re on this side of heaven, we will continue to battle similar kinds of paralyzing fear.
But I love Jesus’ response. In that Scripture, Jesus reaches out to Peter and saves him from drowning. And Jesus does the same thing for us. He’ll reach out to us, pick us up, and comfort us even in the craziest storms.
When you start thinking about your fears, remember that Jesus will be right there, ready to catch you. And as you’re able to keep your eyes focused on God, His presence will sustain you as you begin to experience His peace.
A Prayer for Anyone Battling Anxious Thoughts
Heavenly Father, thank You for being near to me. I ask that You would guard my heart and my mind against the worries of this world. Cover me in Your perfect peace. Show me how You’re using this battle for Your glory, and help me to trust You with all that I am. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Spiritual Truths to Battle Depression
Joy. It’s such a simple word, but if you’re dealing with depression, it might feel like a pipe dream. Some of the most common ways depression manifests itself is when you experience feelings like being overwhelmed with sadness, numb beyond words, or losing interest in the very things that make you, you.
When I experience feelings of depression, I think about David—the author of some of the Psalms. In his life, David experienced some crazy things that could understandably lead to depression. We even get an inside look at some of those feelings in his poems, prayers, and cries to God.
The righteous cry out, and the Lᴏʀᴅ hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lᴏʀᴅ is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18 NIV
David also reminds us that the sadness or depression we might be feeling now is only temporary. But while we’re in the midst of those feelings, he tells us to praise.
Sing to the Lᴏʀᴅ, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name … Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:4-5 NLT
Worship in the waiting. Pray and believe God is working all things for good. And find someone to talk with—whether it’s a close friend, pastor, or counselor.
As you wait for your joyful morning to come, I encourage you to worship in the waiting. Pray and believe that God is working all things for your good. And finally, find someone to talk with—whether it’s a close friend, your spouse, or a counselor.
No matter where you’re up to in your journey, or how you’re feeling, joy is possible because it’s a gift from God. And regardless of how hard he tries, the enemy will never be able to take it away from you.
A Prayer for Anyone Battling Depression
God, like David, I’m feeling overwhelmed, numb, and discouraged. But I know that You are with me, even when life feels dark, confusing, and too much to bear. Today I cry out to You, asking for Your peace, Your joy, and Your love. Pull me out of this darkness, and help me feel more of Your presence. I trust You. You are good. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Spiritual Truths to Battle Thoughts of Self-Harm and Suicide
1. Don’t live in isolation.
Elijah left his servant and traveled alone for an entire day. It’s so much easier for the enemy to win when you’re weak and don’t have people speaking truth over you. If you need to talk about the thoughts you’re having, you can talk with a counselor, share with a trusted friend or family member, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
2. God is our Healer and Provider.
The reason Elijah was on the run and terrified for his life was because Jezebel had threatened to kill him after he destroyed the gods she worshiped. Elijah made choices to honor God and was met with death threats. When he cried out to God, the Lord provided because He cared. At Elijah’s lowest point, God did what He does best—He provided strength.
3. Remember that God is close.
Once Elijah woke up and was strengthened by God, he experienced a number of natural phenomena—a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire. It was after this fire that Elijah experienced the presence of God in a small whisper. We don’t whisper to our friends when we’re far away, instead, we save it for when we’re near and have something to share with just them. God is the same way. He has something to tell you, but you have to be willing to lean into His soft, gentle whisper.
God met Elijah in his wilderness, and I promise He will meet you in yours—in fact, He’s already there. Cry out to Him. Bring in trusted friends. Don’t fight this battle alone.
Just as there was purpose in Elijah’s pain, there’s purpose in your pain, too.
And know this: Just as there was purpose in Elijah’s pain, there is purpose in your pain, too. Whether you believe it or not, you bring light into this dark world. Do not let the enemy trick you into believing anything short of that truth.
Resources for Overcoming Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts
Watch this video about overcoming suicidal thoughts.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
A Prayer for Anyone Struggling with Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts
God, I’m feeling pretty similar to Elijah right now. My world feels dark, and I’m not sure how I can keep going. But I know that in my weakness, Your strength is made perfect. So, please, strengthen me right now, Father. Fill me with more of Yourself. Give me hope. Give me joy. And give me peace that only You can provide. I know that You are with me, and You will never leave me. Lead me out of this darkness and into Your love and light. Show me who to talk to, and give me the courage to share how I’m really doing. I trust You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Spiritual Truths to Battle Eating Disorders
I have a hard question for you, but I ask that you bear with me and answer honestly: What is your relationship with food and exercise? If your heart rate just increased and your palms started sweating, it’s okay—there’s hope.
In today’s culture, it is so easy to believe that our identity is found in the shape of our bodies. Media makes it difficult to believe God’s truth when ads, commercials, and social media are flooded with new diets and workout regimens.
You may struggle with overeating. Or maybe it’s undereating. Perhaps your eating and exercise patterns are related more to control.
Regardless of what your personal experiences look like, know this: You are a masterpiece. Yes, you. No matter your size. No matter your struggle. No matter what you’re facing right now. You are a masterpiece, created by God on purpose, with a purpose.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT
If we want to do these good things the Bible tells us about, it’s important to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This stems from God wanting the best for us. In fact, Jesus loves us so much that His Holy Spirit resides in us. Our body is a place where He dwells.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, you are not alone, and there is a way out. It’s time to tell someone you trust, whether it’s a pastor, friend, LifeGroup Leader, or therapist. Accountability is key to healing, and we’d be honored to pray for you as you take the next step in your journey.
Resources for Overcoming Eating Disorders
A Prayer for Anyone Struggling With Eating Disorders
Heavenly Father, thank You for declaring that I am a masterpiece just as I am. Renew my mind and how I think about food and exercise. I want to honor You with the way I treat my body. Give me Your strength to overcome my eating disorder, and show me what my next step is. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Spirituality and mental health are important, and if you’ve struggled with one or multiple of these issues, you are not alone. You are loved. You are worthy. And there is hope.
We know this guide is only a starting point, but our prayer is that you would use these resources to help you take your next step toward healing. And please remember: Seeking help is not a weakness. It’s a sign of wisdom.
Be vulnerable about where you’re struggling. Consider finding a trusted therapist. And know that God is with you every step of the way.
If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, get help immediately. If it’s a suicidal crisis, go (or bring your friend) to your nearest Emergency Room or call 911. Try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) if you’re not sure what to do.