It is so easy to let worry and anxiety slip into our lives and take over our thoughts, especially as mothers. In this post, I will touch on what the Bible says about being anxious and worried as we look at Question #4 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). I will show that if we truly believe what the Bible says, there is, in fact, no reason for us to be worried or anxious. There are a lot of resources out there that I have personally found helpful in my own struggle with these issues; I’ll list them at the end of this post.
At first glance, Question #4 and Question #5 on the EPDS may seem to be asking the same thing. Question #4 asks if you’ve felt “anxious or worried for no good reason” and Question #5 asks if you have “felt scared or panicky for no very good reason.” It may be helpful to take a look at the respective meanings of these words to see what these questions are actually getting at. I found the following definitions on Dictionary.com.
Anxious – experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
Worry – (verb) allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. (noun) a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems
Scared – fearful; frightened
Panicky – feeling or characterized by uncontrollable fear or anxiety; thrown into a state of intense fear or desperation
In applying the above definitions to questions #4 and #5, there is one nuance that separates them in my mind: worry and anxiety can be tamped down, but being scared to the point of panicking indicates a loss of control. Since panic and panic attacks are in a league all of their own, especially for moms with Postpartum Depression (PPD), I’ll save that for the next time I write.
Let’s zoom in on the phrase “no good reason.” What exactly is considered “no good reason” for a mom with a newborn? After my children were born, I could think of several very good, legitimate reasons to be anxious and/or worried. These worries were constantly at the forefront of my mind, brought up repeatedly by well-meaning medical professionals, friends, and family alike:
- Is my baby sleeping on his back? They say that the likelihood for SIDS increases if the baby isn’t on his back.
- What if he spit up and is choking and I will be asleep and I won’t know?
- Why can’t I breastfeed? I struggled with my daughter and I’m struggling with my son now. What’s wrong?!
- Should I be up pumping right now to increase my supply?
- Should I be sleeping right now because they say “Sleep when the baby sleeps…” (HA! like that’s gonna happen, especially with a 17-month-old running around)
- How long should I be avoiding public places so that we don’t catch the flu?
- Am I giving enough attention to both my children and my husband?
Really, I could go on and on and on. I’m a worrier warrior, a champion at being anxious. It just flows so naturally with so little training. There are many concerns that come with taking care of a tiny human being that is 100% reliant on other people 100% of the time. But I let that anxiety take over my every thought, leading me to believe that it was somehow up to me to protect my little ones from every potential threat, instead of doing my best and trusting God to do his perfect will.
I had to train myself to preach God’s Truth to my soul every day, and as I did, I came to realize that there isn’t really a single good reason for us to be anxious or worried as chosen, loved, and kept children of God (Jude 1:1). I armed myself with precious promises from Scripture and rehearsed them to myself whenever anxiety or worry would creep in. I’d like to share some of the ones I have clutched onto during my postpartum struggle here.
Matthew 6: 25-34 “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? 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? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, 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? Therefore do not 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. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
After my second child was born, our savings account dwindled as we paid off medical bills (for both the delivery and my PPD recovery). During this season, I was worried and anxious about what we’d eat or drink and how we would be able to live. I reminded myself of these verses from Matthew and trusted that God would continue to feed and clothe us. I also found that I had to stop worrying about all of the unknown tomorrows and think only about today. God promised to give me grace for all that I faced today, but this promise does not extend to the imaginary trials I worry about. (See “Grace Sufficient for Today” at the end of my post.)
Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Whenever I felt anxiety rising within me I would use this verse as a template, praying “God, I am feeling anxious about _________ and I am asking for your peace that passes all understanding. Please guard my mind and heart with Jesus himself and keep me from letting my fears get the best of me. Thank you for giving me my children and for all the good things you bless me with. Amen.”
Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
All-Glorious Christ humbled himself, descended from heaven, and became like us, a human. He lived a perfect life and then willingly went to the cross to take on the punishment that I justly deserved. He suffered the full wrath of God to take my sin so that I can have an eternal relationship with Him. If He did ALL of this for me, a sinner, He will certainly help me in the present and in the future.
And then there is Isaiah 41:10 which says “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.”
Jesus promised to be with us “even until the end of the age“. (Matthew 28:20). I don’t know when that is, but I doubt I will even make it until then. It’s a long time. Forever. If He will be with us until a time so far off in the future, then what does that mean for right now? It means that He walks with us, talks with us, and will never forsake us through every single event in our lives.
There are just so many references in the Bible to not being anxious or worrying. God must have put all of those in the Bible knowing that we’d be anxious, worried people. It is touching to think that He knows our weakness and provides us with these promises to cling to! These were just a few of my favorites. Do you have one that you turn to?
For further reading, here are some resources I have enjoyed in the past: