Until recently, I believed that although anxiety can have physical symptoms, it is an entirely spiritual problem with entirely spiritual solutions. I believe now that anxiety is both a spiritual and physical problem that often requires holistic care.
We are commanded in Scripture by Jesus (Matthew 6:25-34) and the Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:6-7) to not be anxious. Instead, we’re to trust God’s perfect sovereignty. When we trust Him fully, casting our cares on Him, we find peace that surpasses all understanding.
This is true. Christians can root out anxiety by having more faith. It is also true that real, biological imbalances can wreak havoc on a person’s brain regardless of their faith in Christ. In more severe cases, medicine is sometimes needed to clear away the mental fog and allow these truths to seep in.
I had to come face to face with this reality in my own life very recently. A hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, and personal tragedy collided bringing debilitating anxiety and depression. I was experiencing an extreme range of symptoms, but I would not have labeled it that on my own. I simply knew I was having a hard time.
Several people close to me expressed their concern for my health and the health of my baby. My husband asked me to talk to my doctor about it at my next prenatal visit. For six weeks after my doctor gave a diagnosis, I tried to solve my troubles without the medication prescribed. I desired to treat it spiritually, clinging to Christ amid the storm.
I attended church every time the doors were open, read my Bible daily, listened to worship music, and learned to truly pray without ceasing. I saw a biblical counselor weekly. Under her guidance, I began a devotional on anxiety and read a book on the grace of biblical lament. They were phenomenally helpful resources.
All of it was good. However, I found that no matter how much truth I poured into my brain, how much I trusted that God would work it all together for His glory, the burden was too great and my symptoms too severe.
I felt on the verge of drowning every day. Even though I was desperately clinging to Christ as my anchor through the storm and growing steadily in my faith, the water kept lapping up at my face threatening to take me under.
My reluctance to be treated per my doctor’s orders was deeply rooted in the belief that anxiety is a purely spiritual matter with entirely spiritual solutions. My incomplete theology led me to one of the darkest places I’ve ever been. There, I found the gospel sweeter and promises of peace more real, but I also realized medication is a common grace and when taken in faith, can be a very helpful aid.
I needed medicine in the same way that a woman with a broken leg finds comfort in Christ but needs crutches to get back on her feet. Whether medicated or not, my hope is in Christ– the sure and steady anchor.