“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)
My oldest son has played sports since he was ten years old. He excelled in many different positions on the field, but when he entered college he was asked to play a new role, one he has never been in before. To say that he was anxious is a huge understatement. He made many major mistakes—the type that cost his team wins. The more he tried to correct what he was doing the worse the situation got. He kept trying different techniques, but the pressure was just too much for him.
He finally found solace when he spoke with another player who gave him some advice that had very little to do with the game. His friend told him that his identity was not in how he performed but that his identity was in Christ alone. He told my son that he didn’t have to be afraid of failing because God was with him and loved him during every single play of the game whether it was good or bad.
The anxiety my son felt trying to perform on the field is the same anxiety that my daughter feels when she is about to take a test or must go into a new social situation for the first time.
What my son’s friend told him echo the words I tell every single one of my kids; you have a resting place, you have help, you have someone to uphold you, and you don’t have to be afraid.
Often when we see our kids struggling we just want to slap a verse with some commands on them to somehow make the situation better. We say something like, “Don’t be afraid! You have nothing to be anxious about. Things will be fine.” And while there may be a time and a place for that, the better thing would be to remind them of the reasons why they don’t have to be afraid.
God says it so clearly in Isaiah 41. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am with you; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Too often we tend to focus on what they should be doing instead of what He has already done and what He has promised to continue to do for them. Maybe it’s time to give your anxious teen some good news instead of more commands to stop being fearful. That was exactly the help my son needed. He needed to hear the good news of the gospel. I think we all do.
Our believing children are promised that the One who started the work in them will complete it, as the strength to endure comes from Him. They are never left alone to deal with their anxieties. He promises to help them. And that promise of help is for you too. He will be your help as you help them.
Your child may need someone in their life to remind them of these truths and other beneficial ways to support good mental health. In some instances, you may need to seek out help from a trusted professional if the anxiety is overwhelming. There is no shame in asking for help.
The truth of the matter is that God is holding fast to you and your children and nothing will ever change that. Pray that the Holy Spirit helps you to remember that you and your kids are held, that you are His, that He is with you, that He promises strength, and that He will keep you.