“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”1 Peter 5:8 NIV
That’s quite a graphic image, isn’t it? I’m not a big fan of roaring lions prowling around me and my family, looking for someone to devour. But let’s not forget the rest of this passage…
“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”1 Peter 5:9 NIV
The truth is that there are lies and enemies lurking at the edges of our lives, looking for the way in. We often let in those lies by accident, not recognizing them as un-true until we have been devoured by anxiety and depression.
The best way to resist and defeat anxiety is to look the lie in the eyeball, call it out for what it is, and counter it with the truth. And one of the places I like to go to find truth is my Bible.
In Hebrews 4:12, we read that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (NIV)
Friend, we can use the truths found in the Bible as a battle sword against the enemy’s lies. We are not left to the mercy of the prowling lion but have been given the weapons to defeat the lies that curse our minds. Specifically, one weapon: the Word of God.
How to Use Scriptures to Combat Anxiety:
After looking on the web, reading multiple books on childhood anxiety, and talking to my friends (IRL and online), I have discovered a pattern to the lies we hear. There are 12 general thought-patterns that both adults and children get stuck in. For each of the thought-patterns, I’ve suggested a verse you can use to counter that lie with the truth.
First, read through the list of thought-pattersn and identify which you are most prone to. If you want to work through them with your child, talk through each of these thought-patterns together.
Say, “do you ever feel like …?” I did this with my 9-year-old son and was SHOCKED at how many of them he identified with!
Then, choose a verse to memorize together, to use as smart talk against your worries.
12 Scriptures for Anxiety and Depression: the truths that battle the lies
1. The bad thing that happened before will happen again.
When I was a child, I got water up my nose and it hurt so bad I can still remember it. After that, I was so afraid of putting my face in the water that I never learned how to swim, because I always had to use one hand to hold my nose closed. This lie tells me that what happened before is destined to happen again, that I got hurt once, so it’s definitely going to happen again.
Here’s a promise from God to speak over your life or your child’s life when you start believing this lie:
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19 NIV
2. Things will never change.
This lie heats us up slowly, and before we know it we are simmering in this defeatist attitude like a frog in a pot of water. Ready to hear the truth? This verse is extra powerful because of its Biblical context: Israel has just been pummeled and exiled, and the prophet Jeremiah is lamenting his country’s disaster. But in the midst of his lament, he speaks this powerful promise:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-33 NIV
3. Worrying gives me control.
In the back of our minds, we believe that our worrying can accomplish a purpose. It can keep our car from crashing, our business from going under, or our dog from dying. But listen to this word from Jesus:
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life
Luke 12:25-26 NIV
4. I’m not good enough.
This lie is incredibly common
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”
Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV
5. Everyone is judging/making fun of me.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).
“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6 NIV
6. I’m stupid.
We all feel stupid at times, whether because people have told us so or because we believe this lie, deep down, that we are unworthy. In this case, we need to remember the words God spoke to Paul:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
7. I shouldn’t bother people (kid version: adults are going to get mad at me).
We all know that person that airs all their dirty laundry, and we don’t want to be like them. But this lie keeps our fears and worries bottled up, and it’s almost impossible to heal when we are too afraid to talk to someone about it. For this lie, you need the truth of Godly courage:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NIV
>>RELATED: 8 Prayers To Help Your Child With Anxiety
8. God doesn’t really want to hear my problems.
This is a variation on the previous fear (that we don’t want to bother anyone). But if the Psalms are any indication, this is a very definite LIE. God wants to hear your problems…all of them. There are no problems too small for his attention or too big for his power.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
9. I’m afraid of fear/of panic attacks.
I haven’t experienced this myself but my son told me ALL about it. Fear of having a fear reaction is like exponential fear. If this is the lie you believe, try praying this one when the fear encroaches:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 1 Timothy 1:7 HCSB
Or use the breath prayer to activate the relaxation response in your nervous system. As you speak each line, be sure to breath all the way out, then inhale deeply before speaking the next line.
Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still and know.
(from Psalm 46:10 NIV)
10. What if…
The “what if”s of life can be paralyzing, and this one is very directly like the passage at the beginning where the lies prowl around us. If this is the lie for you, try this truth on for size:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 NIV
11. I can’t do this/this is too much, so why bother trying?
Oh, the perfectionist in me wants to quit all the time. Sometimes trying something new is the hardest. For this particular lie, combat it with this truth:
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 NIV
12. I don’t know and I don’t want to fail.
You may see the fear of failure a lot in a teenager, but it can haunt us throughout our whole life. For this fear, use this weapon:
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 NIV
So, are you ready? You’ve