A recent study showed that 3 of the top 10 best-selling Christian books were adult coloring books. It seems like adult coloring books are the new "knitting" or "playing cards" . . activities used to reduce stress and anxiety. Some of these are really good techniques for reducing anxiety! But, I found it interesting again what a heavy weight anxiety is for Christians in our day. I think it's a reflection of our larger culture, but also a persistent troubling problem for those who follow Christ. Our enemy has been trying to cause us anxiety ever since he asked our first parents, ". . .did God really say?" Our Father is the Prince of Peace.
I have struggled with anxiety in my own life, and I do think it's important to have strategies to help us cope. But, it's important to see these strategies, like knitting, for what they are. They are "coping" strategies that do not aim to deeply help the problem. Helpful and useful as they are, our coping mechanisms should simply help us get to the place where we can find lasting help. Even if you've had to navigate medicine and other prescribed remedies for anxiety, those things, at their best, should help us get to the place where we can seek our Father. The Bible has much to say to us about anxiety, and the first thing the Christian should do, is pray. Our Father's presence and our awareness of it, is the lasting remedy for anxiety. Philippians is a great place to go in the scriptures for this. I wrote something a few years ago to walk us through Philippians as we face anxiety. These might be some helpful questions to ask and passages to memorize or meditate on as we face anxiety:
“The Philippians Road to Conquering Stress”
1) Why am I stressed?
a) For the sake of Christ, persecution
(perhaps family looks down on you for your faith; or perhaps you are making a tough financial decision because of your convictions which makes life a little tougher)
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for His sake.
b) Issues from my past
Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
c) Present circumstances
Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
We can be strong in faith in any of these situations.
2) What should I do to counteract stress?
a) Be committed to seeing the Grace of God in many circumstances
(it’s so easy to see the 2 things that went wrong instead of the 10 things(or 10,000) that God did for you today)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your patience.
b) Pray for help
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
3) What can I replace stress with?
(it’s important to not just try and avoid stress with things (mentioned above) but to replace your stress with new thoughts)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whtatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.