I’m a Christian So Why Do I Still Feel Anxiety?

-This message is originally titled Mental Blues and is used with permission from The Bridge Church in Ottumwa, Iowa, with guest speaker Meredith Knox. See full video message by clicking here: Mental Blues | The Bridge Church – Iowa

Good morning, good morning every campus, what’s up y’all? How are you doing on this brisk [morning]… probably not brisk to y’all. You’re like, it was below 40 a few weeks ago, and I’m like, below 40? Count me out. [In] South Carolina it’s 40° period and we’re like, is this the North Pole? What’s happening?

So I am, as pastor Marty said, I could just consider myself a regular now… But the thing I want to start off with today is, any poets in the house? You just love poetry? I love poetry. So I want to start today with a famous poet from the 90’s, to a girl before the 8:00 AM [service] called “vintage”, which hurt really bad. She was like, the 1900’s? And I was like, Oh my God, don’t talk about it like I’m an ancient explorer. Anyways, a famous poet of the 90’s once said this.

Blue are the people here
That walk around
Blue like my corvette, its in and outside
Blue are the words I say
And what I think
Blue are the feelings
That live inside me

I’m blue da ba dee da ba di.

If you don’t know what that is, probably better for it. For all of those who do know, congratulations, that’ll be in your head the rest of the day. You’all wanna help me really quick? Why not, you know, this morning let’s wake everybody up. Ready? Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee) Official Music Video (Remastered) HD (youtube.com)

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
If I was green I would die?
Is that what he says?

Anyways, poet of the 90’s where he’s basically this blue guy, lives in a blue world, everything’s blue. That’s funny but is that not what our world kind of feels like right now? Everything just has a hint of sadness, of stress, of anxiety, of worry? I’ve been in student ministry for, let’s see, I started 16 years ago serving in student ministry, so a whole teenager ago, and I’ve never seen so many students struggle with anxiety and depression like they do now. We asked our students a couple years back about some stuff they wanted to talk about. What are you asking questions about? What do you want to know?

And one of the number one questions that they asked was, I’m a Christian so why do I still feel anxiety? It’s a great question. And so today I want to help us answer that question. If you feel like you’re a Blue Man or a Blue Girl living in a Blue World, how do we deal with our anxiety? And I want to do that by bringing this question straight to the feet of Jesus today. I believe He’s the best one to ask all of our questions to. By the way if anybody on any campus needs to hear this, Jesus is not scared of any of your questions. So the question I want to help us answer today is,

Jesus, what do I do when I feel anxious? Not if, not hypothetically, but what do I do when I feel anxious?

Jesus cares about your worry, your fear, your anxiety, what stresses you out. And this is not just my opinion. I know this because Jesus talked about anxiety. When he first began his ministry, go look at Matthew 5:67, it’s one of Jesus’s most recorded sermons. He has just started his ministry in Matthew 5. He goes through the beatitudes, and then in Matthew 6 he gets to these verses. We’re gonna be in Matthew 6:25 through 33. But as we bring this question to Jesus, let’s look at what he says.


Matthew 6:25. If you’re ready to get into God’s Word, say “I’m Ready!”. Jesus, what do I do when I feel anxious?

“Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious.”

Don’t you love it when people do that. You’re like, man, I’m stressed. I’m like, well don’t be stressed. You’re like, thank you Einstein, that was very helpful. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He, the source of wisdom, is about to give us wisdom on how to deal with our anxiety. So he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

So let me go ahead and give you a heads up, the verses following this, I believe Jesus gives us three ways when we feel anxious, what to do with our anxiety. What to do with our body, what to do with our eyes, and the three words I want you to notice as we read through this text is:

  1. Look
  2. Consider
  3. Seek

OK? “Look”, “consider”, “seek”. Those are the three words we’re gonna walk through… OK don’t point fingers, but how many of y’all know some people who don’t like to follow directions. You buy something from, I don’t know ,TJ Maxx, IKEA, whatever… and you’re like, should we read the instructions? No I got this. 42 business days later, it’s still…

Jesus gives us some clear directions that I’m going to highly encourage you to use. To use. He doesn’t teach to us so we can go, man that was a good word. Jesus wants to help us.


So let’s look at the first thing; he gives us some directions. “Don’t be anxious.” How Jesus? Verse 26, he gives us one direction. “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” This is very simple, but I think it is going to be so powerful as we put it into practice. I want you to write this down.

When you feel anxious, this is what Jesus would say.

Stop and look at something different.

You’re like, groundbreaking. But I’m being I’m being so serious. This is not inviting us all to be bird watchers here, which if you love that, more power to you. Jesus is probably teaching in an open field and some birds probably just flew overhead, and he’s like, hey, look at the birds. Look how they don’t have storehouses or barns, but your father takes care of them. What is Jesus saying here? He’s saying that where you look matters. Church, this is so simple, but I need you to hear me. What you are consistently putting your eyeballs on matters when it comes to your anxiety. Just a few verses before this Jesus talks about this disparity between a good eye and a bad eye, and I want Jesus to actually give his own Amen.

In Matthew 6 starting in verse 22, he says this. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.”

Now, let me tell you what I used to think this verse meant, OK? The eye is the lamp of the body. OK, I’ll just watch less R rated movies and I’ll be better. That’s not what this means. I thought, oh, this means just look at less bad stuff and feel less bad stuff. That is partial, but here’s what Jesus is saying here. This would have been like a colloquial term that like, slang if you will. A lot of y’all who are getting older, you’re like, “Awake students keep talking about something’s mid and they have to lulu, and you’re like, what are you talking about? See, this would have been a colloquial term that people have known what a good eye means. It’s the same way anybody that plays softball or used to play softball or baseball, anybody? My people! OK, I grew up playing softball. I played in college and so much of my life was training my eye to know when a pitch coming in was trash or when it was something I could [hit out of the ballpark], you know what I’m saying? It wasn’t just, was I capable of hitting? I had to train my eye to see what can I use and what can I not use.

Because the world operates like a really skillful terrible pitcher trying to get you to swing at everything in the world that is actual trash.

So we had this cheer, it’s so lame, I’m embarrassed to even do it in front of you, but I always want to be vulnerable and honest… that we had this cheer we would do that when somebody watched the ball go past, we’d go “good eye, good eye, good eye ee-eye.” Embarrassing. But I want you to hear me that I believe the spirit of God when you choose not to put your eyes on things that cause anxiety and are trash, the Spirit goes hey, “Good eye, good eye, good eye, ee-eye.” This is so practical, but so real that everything in this world is trying to get the attention of your eyes, to train you to only see trash. It’s the difference between a good eye and a bad eye. Someone who has a good eye looks into the world and sees hope, sees opportunity for the Kingdom to break out, see that every opportunity for anxiety is actually an opportunity to lean further into the presence of God and to receive his peace.

Someone with a bad eye, their speech is mostly marked by cynicism, sarcasm, and despair. So I would just ask you to do some work with the Spirit today and maybe just ask a friend, that takes some real vulnerability, like hey… my friend Kelly is here with me… like “Kelly, do you think I have… I think I have a pretty good eye,” and just watch their face. Don’t even wait for their words, just see if they even do a little bit of this… “Oh?” [with head cocked and a wondering look]. Maybe not so good of an eye. God would love to retrain our eyes, to look out into the world, to not only see the good, but desire to see the good.

Instead of looking out and seeing despair and speaking despair, I actually see despair as:

  • God, where’s your kingdom trying to break out?
  • There’s hurt there, where’s your comfort trying to break out?
  • There’s disunity there, where is your unity trying to break out?
  • There’s a fence there, where is forgiveness trying to break out?

Every one of my points today has a point for personal application because messages are not to be just received but activated. Not as many Amens as I wanted to have there, but here’s a question for personal application:

What do I spend most of my time looking at? Is it, and be honest, is it training me to have a good eye or a bad eye?

I’ll be honest with you, there’s some shows I just can’t watch, and it’s not even cause they’re bad. But all of a sudden I find myself being suspicious of people. Like true crime shows, sometimes I’m like, everyone’s a liar, everyone is out to get me, and I’m being silly, but I’m saying, does God call us to a different level of holiness or not? What if holiness was actually a great weapon against anxiety. I’ll just leave that where that is.


Alright, let’s continue. In scripture, because Jesus doesn’t just say “put your eyes on something different,” he also says we gotta consider some different things. He says, “Why are you anxious about clothing?” Your “fits”.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon, (who as far as we know, the richest king who ever lived) “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Matthew 6:28-30

So maybe you read this and maybe you’re a little bit like me, you’re [wondering], is Jesus’s advice to anxiety to really stop and smell the roses? Is that really what he’s telling me to do? First of all, no. Second of all, some of y’all would really benefit from gettin’ off your phone and looking at a tree. That’s all I’m wanna say. I know it’s cold… Go on a walk, stop looking at the news, get out in nature, and smell a flower. I’m just saying, some of y’all would really benefit from that. That is not biblical, that is “Mer Knox” translation. But Jesus isn’t saying just stop and smell the roses, because this word consider in the original language that was written in Greek actually means this: “to learn thoroughly”. So when Jesus says “consider the lilies”, he’s actually saying “study them, see what’s going on, learn thoroughly what’s happening in nature.” So I want to help us learn a couple things when it comes to anxiety, what to consider, to learn thoroughly about anxiety.

First of all, the thing we have to learn is the difference between stress and anxiety. Not everything is anxiety. Some things are just stressful. And stress is like, moments of stress, moments of tension, moments that do cause your heart rate to come up a little bit and you’re a little stressed. Like before my first date [with my now boyfriend] I was stressed. Stressed… and we met at the coffee shop. OK, I don’t know you… I will meet you at the coffee shop. It was stress. It was a moment of stress. I didn’t really know what to expect. So we have moments that are stressful, but I want to encourage us that:

if you keep speaking that everything is “anxiety”, then your biological body will respond to everything as if it is an anxious moment.

This is real life. And also for someone who is actually struggling with an anxiety disorder, it demeans what they’re actually going through.

So we gotta learn the difference because if you keep speaking over everything like, oh that gives me anxiety, oh that gives me is anxiety, oh that gives me anxietythere are literal neural pathways being formed in your brain that your body will naturally respond to any stressful moment with anxiety. And this isn’t just biblical, this is biological. I asked a neuroscientist, one of my besties on the Internet, and she has this to say about our words. By the way agreeing with Proverbs that says the power of life and death is in the tone. She says this about the words that we speak.

“Many of your brain regions that process language, it turns out, also control the insides of your body, such as your major organ systems, your hormones, and your immune system. When people talk about the power of words, it’s not a metaphor. It’s in your brain wiring.” – Lisa Feldman Barrett (Neuroscientist)

God wired our actual body to respond to our words, and our literal neuropathways, and I’m saying if we keep speaking anxiety, if we keep speaking despair, if we keep speaking cynicism, it’s affecting your brain biology.  It’s time to speak some different things. This is why some of us need to sing during worship like we’ve never sung before. In the face of your stress and anxiety, you sing out now, I will trust your promises. Scripture says, “return to your rest Oh my soul, and forget not his benefits.” Did you know you can command your soul to not bow its knees to the anxiety of the world, but to rest in the peace of the promises that God has given to us. Listen, you hear me, I can feel in somebody’s heart, somebody’s going, “Are you saying I can pray my anxiety away?” I’m about to get to some practical things… I’m not saying by prayer only, but I am saying that prayer should not be our last resort but our first response. Pray. Don’t only pray because some of us generally have some anxiety we’re dealing with. So that’s stress.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is like this heavy cloud that won’t leave us, this consistent tightness of chest. It’s like there’s this just heaviness consistently draped around our shoulders, and when it comes to considering to learning thoroughly, it’s time for many of us to go to get some professional help and learn what’s going on inside of our body.

For many years I was struggling with chronic back pain. But I told you I grew up an athlete, so I’m like, rub some dirt in it; it’ll be fine. I’d wake up in the morning…even right now, oh yeah, it just popped… oh my gosh, thank you for your grace Jesus… that felt so good. But some of my friends kept being like, “you need to go to the doctor; you need to go to the doctor.”  I’m like, no, it’s fine.  I’m fine. Well guess what? I went to the doctor… hold the applause, thank you so much, and guess what y’all? I have… there’s a reason for my pain… I have what’s called spina bifida occulta, which means the lower part of my spine is not fully attached to my pelvis.  So I wasn’t just making it up; I had genuine problems with my body, but now they’ve given me exercises and medication and things that I can do so that I don’t have to live in pain the rest of my life. And I’m here to tell many of us that it’s time to drop the pride, I want to speak death to any shame, and I want to say maybe it’s time to go to the doctor and figure out what’s going on with your emotions, figure out what’s going on with your anxiety.

Team counseling.. any other team counseling in the house? Thank you, three other people! I’m telling you, and I get it. Many of us grew up in a culture where, and I’m just gonna say it, I grew up where people told me that if you went to counseling you were crazy. And I wanna just speak death to that. Guess what one of the names of God is. Wonderful Counselor. Would he not give that same kind of wisdom to people who have gone to school to help us to diagnose what’s going on, just in the way with my physical body, with my mental health and get us some help?

So here’s the question I want to ask with this personal reflection:

  • Where do I know I need help?
  • Who can I ask to help me?

It might be time for some spouses to get honest with each other, to say I need some help. Maybe a next step is, we have names of counselors that we would love to connect you with. Let us help. This is what part of the church is for. Receive the mercy. Accept the help. Amen? Amen.


Alright let’s keep walking with Jesus. As we look, as we consider, and then finally we’re going to be in Matthew 6:31- 33 says this. “Therefore, don’t be anxious.” I love how Jesus ends where he started. He starts with “Don’t be anxious” and he ends with “Don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The third direction that I think Jesus wants to give us today is this: Seeking me first will stop a lot of anxiety (stress) before it even starts. Seeking me first will stop a lot of anxiety before it even starts.

Here’s what I think Jesus is getting at, one of the things Jesus is getting at. If you go back and read through those verses, there’s nothing evil in either of any of those desires, right? Like I want food, it’s a common desire. You want clothing… please all of you come to church with clothes on… you know. I want provision… None of these things are bad, but what Jesus is getting at is like, those basic human needs… what will happen is, we will start looking for something to fulfill them. We’ll start looking for money to cover the anxiety that maybe lack of food and clothing that I have compared to somebody else will give me. Provision. We’ll start looking at the job, and we’ll start seeking that as the filling, so I won’t feel anxious anymore. We’ll start seeking substance to ease some of the anxiety. And Jesus is saying, if you will focus your gaze, if you will seek, crave, desire, demand my presence first, then a lot of that anxiety will be halted before it even gets a chance to come through the door. Seek me first.

So here’s the question I have for reflection for us in this. What do I want most? What do I want most? Because I’m gonna tell you there’s only one source that is trustworthy to provide the things that will actually give us the comfort that we need. I love the language that Jesus uses in all of these statements. He says in verse 26, “Are you not of more value than the birds?” Verse 30, he says, “Will he not clothe you much more than these?” Verse 32 – I love this one- “Your heavenly father knows”. And Bridge church, every campus, I just need y’all to hear me, like from my heart, I need you to hear me.

Your heavenly father knows.

He knows your need, he knows the anxiety that you’re facing. I just wanna testify really quickly, a source of anxiety for me for a really long time was, my brother was just trapped by addiction, and I felt so helpless. But I didn’t know what to do, and I just kept, “God you have to do it. I know that you know.” And can I just testify that last year my brother gave his life to Jesus, is free of addiction, is back with his family (drew some applause). Here’s what I know, with all the people clapping their hands at this campus, there’s at least a few at some campus that go “good for you” [sarcastically]. I know because I used to feel that. Someone gives their testimony like, “my family member is free of addiction” and I’m like, “Well good for you” [with sarcasm]. It would actually be a cause of anxiety for me. The enemy is defeated by the word of our testimony.

I want to testify, don’t you give up praying. Don’t you give up seeking. Your heavenly father knows.

And I know he knows because I know Jesus knows. Colossians chapter one says that He, Jesus, is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. If you wanna know how God responds to anxiety, just look at the life of Jesus. Jesus came fully flesh. We know this. You don’t think Jesus had opportunities for anxiety? Not Jesus! He was perfect. Perfect, but was also walking in a broken world that was trying to get him to have a bad eye, that was trying to get him to follow bad ways.


So I wanted to end today by just walking through the life of Jesus and revealing to us what we get when we have Jesus walking with us through our anxiety. I want to start with his birth. Think of Jesus’s environment that he was birthed into. His mom told everybody she was a virgin. You don’t think that came with some rumors on the streets? Come on now, you’re like, not in 1st century Israel. There were some gossips on the street of Nazareth, OK. You don’t think he walked down the street, maybe even as a little boy, and they’re like, “That boy don’t even know who his daddy is.” And I wonder if even in Jesus’s head, even as a little boy, he’s going, “No, my heavenly Father knows.”


Apparently, this belittling voice followed him even into the rest of his life because it says that people questioned if he could do anything based on where he was from. Yeah, ever had anybody look down to you because of where you’re from? I’m from Little Washington, NC it’s near the Outer Banks. Let me just tell you, me and Washington and Ottumwa? Kindred spirits. Small town. People looked down on Jesus because he was from a certain place. Anxiety. Opportunity for anxiety.


We don’t know when but sometime between the ages of 12 and 30, his earthly father died. Some of you are very familiar with this. Maybe you used to go to your dad for advice, for council. Maybe you’ve never had an earthly dad you can trust. Jesus understands the opportunity for anxiety.


Jesus was absolutely hated by the most influential religious leaders of the day. They’d follow him around badgering and belittling him.


Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 tells us Jesus didn’t make any money on his own. He had to rely on the generosity of other people. Y’all ever had to rely on other people’s generosity? Opportunity for anxiety. “Mer Knox” translation” he was broke, relying on, by the way, some rich women provided for his ministry (that’s another message for another day, just wanna throw that out there), but an opportunity for financial anxiety.


Jesus got lonely. Oh my gosh, the loneliness… that is an opportunity for anxiety. Because who could understand what Jesus was going through?


The night before he’s to be arrested he goes to the garden of Gethsemane and scripture gives us such a beautiful insight into what his mental state was going through. Jesus says “my soul is sorrowful even to the point of death.” Scripture says that he was sweating so much it was like drops of blood. There’s some scholars who even believed that he was going through a panic attack in this moment. Opportunity for anxiety.


He then puts a cross on his back, walks down the road that’s lined with people belittling and mocking him. Come on, don’t sanitize scripture, think about this. Walking down a street, being hung on a cross, going through one of the most excruciating physical pains any human will have to go through, while going through mental and emotional pain because all of his friends have abandoned him. People are questioning his identity, “you’re not the son of God… you said you could save other people, you can’t even save yourself.” And that Jesus, that Jesus who experienced anxiety, I want to say this, not without emotion. We see evidence of his tears, we see evidence of his questions, we see evidence of his wrestling, we see evidence of his weeping. He doesn’t go through anxiety emotionless, but he always has the presence of peace with him. That reality is now a promise that we get because of what Jesus went through.


John chapter 14 shows us, look what Jesus says, who went through all that, he says this to his disciples right before he’s about to go to the cross. He says my church, my people, “I’m leaving with you a gift -peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Jesus knows anxiety will come, stress will come, but he wants you to know not only is he not afraid of your anxiety, he wants to walk with us in it. Because he knows what it feels like. . But then he says, “here you can have my peace.” Which means peace is not just a possession we can have, it’s a person we can know.

So here’s how I want to wrap up today, at every campus I know, I can feel the weight of some things that we are carrying. And like I said earlier, prayer is not the only thing we can do, but it is my gosh, the first thing and the consistent thing we can do. So I would love to invite you to just close your eyes.

First of all I want to encourage you, if you need help today, please ask. Please ask.

But I’m gonna do what only I can do today. I’m going to pray, I’m going to go to war in prayer for you, for you to experience this peace that as, hey if you are a follower in Christ, this is your possession. So if that’s you and you’re just like, I can’t get from under the weight of this anxiety, this stress, it just feels like a dark cloud, I just want to pray over you for this promise of peace. So if that’s you, just lift your hand up. I don’t have to see you, the spirit of God sees you. And if you would just keep your hand raised just as a sign of like, “I want to receive this,” I just want to pray for you.


Father I speak the powerful almighty eternal words of Jesus over every hand raised. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus, you spoke that word of peace right before you were about to go through the battle to own peace. So I pray Father, that every person with their hand raised would experience, whether right now, as they get in their car, as they get back to the house, a fresh awareness and outpouring of your peace. I pray God that they would cling to your word like it has real power to it. I pray God that they would seek you first, may we get our hopes up that we have a promise that anxiety will not last forever. The same way you will heal our physical bodies, you will one day take away any opportunity for anxiety, any moment of stress, and we will get to worship in the full reality of peace. God I pray right now that you would bind the spirit of depression. I pray right now against any agenda the enemy has. I pray for anyone who’s been having suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation, that they would hear through my voice the words of a loving Father right now that says, “Hey, your heavenly Father knows. I see you. I love you. There is more to live for.”

God I speak death to the schemes of the enemy. Who is like the Lord, strong in battle, mighty is our God. God we speak your power over these people. The enemy does not get to define us with anxiety when you have poured out peace, God, I ask this. I ask for boldness over those who need to ask for help. I ask for the humility to carry their feet to someone to say “I need some help, would you help me?” I speak death to shame. If anyone in this whole message has felt any shame, God I speak death to that. Your heavenly Father loves you.

Anxiety will not last forever but let me walk with you through it until the day we get to stand face to face. Jesus we love you, we’re betting on you, we believe, help our unbelief. This in Jesus name, Amen.


Please seek help if you find yourself struggling with your mental health. In Iowa, The Well collaborates with resources and organizations in several communities, so contact us if you need guidance on where to begin. Visit us: Resource Center | The Well Resource Center (thewelliowa.org)