Is Anxiety a Sin Problem or Medical Condition?

“Anxiety is a sin problem caused by a lack of faith.” To some Christians, this sounds perfectly biblical. To others in Christ, it brings confusion and shame. In reality, the word “anxiety” is a loaded term carrying two very different meanings.

The fact of the matter is that Scripture does teach that anxious thoughts – or worries – are caused by a lack of faith. This however does not seem to be the same “anxiety” doctors diagnose clinically. Most people wrestle with some level of anxiety – worry about uncontrollable future events- and can repent of that sin and trust God’s future sovereignty. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 6 when He said to not worry about your life.

However, clinical anxiety is different. It’s important to differentiate these two types of “anxiety” to bring peace and freedom to Christians who rightly desire to repent of sin but could benefit from medicine to treat their mental health.

Let me be clear. Medication can not cure unbelief or worry. Only faith can do that. Medication simply lessens the severity of uncontrollable physiological symptoms – such as unexplained panic, fear, racing thoughts, elevated heart rate, interrupted sleep, shortness of breath, etc.*

Many women experience some of these symptoms during times of hormonal fluctuation such as PMS, postpartum recovery, and menopause. Something many people don’t realize is that even poor gut health can cause clinical anxiety. It is a real medical condition that the common grace of medication can aid.

As my friend who has struggled with this for most of her life put it,

“I think many people think of anxiety as just a general feeling of anxiousness over things they can’t control, like being nervous for a test. Not that I’m not guilty of worrying about things in the future. I pray about those things and those worries generally melt away, but clinical anxiety is much different. It’s like a disconnection in your brain that brings a constant feeling of uneasiness even in the most mundane of circumstances…”

I can personally attest to this. When I was battling clinical anxiety before medication, I experienced fear and panic at all hours for no apparent reason. Like a child, I found myself profoundly afraid of the dark as a grown married woman in my own home. I would wake up in the night to use the restroom and get into such a state I couldn’t fall back to sleep.

This is not normal behavior and was not caused by any lack of faith. I can honestly say I was growing tremendously in my faith during this season. Every believer needs to seek to honor God in their theology about mental health, submitting to the authority of Scripture, and acting in faith.

Though clinical anxiety is one area of concern, it would be remiss to not also elaborate on the remedy for sinful anxiety. We know we are to combat anxiety with more faith, but how? An excerpt from Beautiful Eulogy’s “Devotion,” answers that:

“Is your faith weak? It is owing to the fact that you don’t know the object of your faith well enough. But when Jesus Christ becomes progressively bigger, or better yet, your understanding of who he is progressively conforms to reality, your faith will become increasingly stronger.”

“Is your faith weak? It is owing to the fact that you don’t know the object of your faith well enough. But when Jesus Christ becomes progressively bigger, or better yet, your understanding of who he is progressively conforms to reality, your faith will become increasingly stronger.”

To have more faith, we must continually pour the truth of who God is into our hearts. Below I’ve listed some passages of Scripture and helpful resources that guide the way.

*I am not a health expert, so you should consult your doctor regarding any medical questions and decisions.

Writer’s Note: I recognize my inability to do justice to this topic. There is much more to be said and far more seasoned saints who I’m sure could have said it better. I do have one additional post on this topic you can read here. My aim is to shed light on the dual nature of the word “anxiety” to bring clarity to this topic for the edification of the Church and the glory of God. If you have questions or concerns regarding the content of this blog post, I invite you to leave a comment below or email me at taylornbwalding@gmail.com. If you made it this far, thank you for reading.

Scripture Passages to Meditate on:

  • “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV
  • “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 ESV
  • “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV
  • “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
  • “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34 ESV (for full context and deeper study, read verses 25-34)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
  • “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25 ESV
  • “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Other Helpful Resources:

  • “Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace (31-Day Devotionals for Life)” – Paul Tautges
  • “Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective” – Stuart Scott
  • “Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament” – Mark Vroegop

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