How often have others told you “If you truly believe that God is in control, then you don’t need to worry”?

How many times have you re-read Matthew 6: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…”?

And after these experiences how often do you feel like a failure by not living up to God’s commandments? Do you question your own relationship with God (“If I really were a good Christian, then I wouldn’t struggle with this”)?

As a Christian and as a psychologist who specializes in the research and treatment of anxiety disorders, I suggest to you that one can indeed be worried and still be a ‘good’ Christian, whatever that means. We tend to focus on our emotions and how they make us feel (sad and frustrated) as opposed to thinking through issues:

Did you stop to think that Jesus’ audience regarding worrying were His own disciples? Contextually, the “do not worry” verse in in Matthew 6 is from the Sermon on the Mount and begins in Matthew 5 with “His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying…” If His own disciples were worrying in His physical presence, why would you expect not to be worried today?

Worrying isn’t a uniquely Christian issue. It’s probable that if you’ve spent the time to find this website and are reading this post, the amount of worrying you engage in is more than the average person, interferes with your life (difficulty sleeping, fatigue, irritability, low mood), and lingers even when everything in your life is objectively good (“I find things to worry about” “I worry that I worry too much”). You may expect the worse of every situation and when it doesn’t come to pass, breathe a sigh of relief before worrying about the next time when it might happen again.

If this sounds like you, I’m going to suggest to you that the issue you’re worrying about right now isn’t the issue, but the issue is the worry itself. I’m also going to suggest that this isn’t about your lack of reliance or trust in God. This may be about a disorder called “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”, and we know how to treat it.