It was just supposed to be a casual drive from home to visit a friend a few hours away. But an hour out, the anxiety attack hit like a freight train. As his breaths came in short, choppy gasps, he managed to pull the car into a church parking lot before the full weight of it hit him. Then, he passed out.
When he awoke, he called a friend to come pick him up. He didn’t want to make the drive home by himself. He made it back home in time for the Sunday evening service at his home church, where he told me of the frightening event he’d just experienced.
Anxiety is a very real problem for our generation, just as it was in my friend. It can come from anything–from stress related to work, school, relationships and finances. It can come slowly, or it can hit like a surprise attack, as it did my friend. But however it comes, anxiety is a very real enemy of millennials.
Some would say that anxiety is just stress and it can be controlled. They would say to just “calm down.” However, it’s not so easy as it might sound. Why is anxiety such a struggle in today’s world?
- The American Psychological Association has found that 12 percent of millennials suffer from an officially diagnosed form of anxiety.
- The American College Health Association found in 2014 that 61 percent of college students struggle with anxiety.
- Other studies show that millennials are the most stressed generation since the 1930s.
- Another, more recent survey has shown that millennials are the most anxious generation, overall.
Why? What is it about this generation that has caused such an abundance of stress? A response to it that leads us to anxiety and panic?
The leading cause of anxiety is uncertainty. And in today’s world, uncertainty may actually be one of the most certain things we face. We’re uncertain about the future. We’re uncertain about our careers. We’re uncertain how to handle student debt. We’re uncertain about where the state of politics is going to lead our country.
It’s a mess. The world as we know it seems to be in a spiral, and it’s causing anxiety the likes of which has never been seen before.
So, what is the solution? How do we cure an entire generation of the anxiety that has been caused by the seemingly incurable, sinful mess of the world? How do we know it will all be okay, even though it seems to only get worse?
He is the answer to the chaos of the world. The mess we face is incurable…except by Him. The first step to curing anxiety is to have a relationship with Jesus. As long as we are in sin, we cannot truly be free from the chains that bind us to our anxiety, choking the life out of us.
But the freedom that Jesus gives? It demolishes those chains and leaves us free to rejoice. We gain this freedom by believing in Him and putting our faith in Him for salvation. The Bible says in Romans 10:9, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
After we have been saved, our relationship with Jesus is constantly growing. Although we still may struggle with anxiety, there is a whole new arsenal of weaponry at our disposal to hurl at our doubts and fears.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hears and minds in Christ Jesus,” the Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7.
These verses mean that we don’t have to worry, and when we do feel anxious, we can pray to God about it and He will give us peace and relief from our anxiety.
Jesus Himself tells us not to worry in Matthew 6:34. He says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” We can’t affect tomorrow by worrying about it. Worry only harms us; it does nothing to help. Instead, we should trust Him to handle our tomorrows.
Finally, we can experience freedom from anxiety by turning it over to God. 1 Peter 5:5-7 says, “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.”
God cares about us. He does not want us to suffer under the weight of anxiety. He wants us to be free from it by surrendering it to Him. He can handle the weight we were never meant to.
Pray. Trust. Surrender. When we do these things, when we let God bear the weight of our anxieties, then we can truly begin to feel free.