Anxiety is a demon that can dig its ugly talons into us at the worst of moments. It steals our sleep, our peace; it drains hours from the day, makes us unproductive, and even hurts relationships. Combating anxiety is equally monumental, sometimes driving us to our knees not because we’re praying but because we are so anxious that we are handicapped.
There was a king in Scripture who struggled with anxiety and depression. King Saul was not a happy guy overall, and in the end, his demise was unfortunate and lonely. However, during his time of oppression, he made efforts to find things to calm him. One of those was music. Interestingly enough, Scripture indicates a demon afflicted Saul. I want to make clear that I am not making the case that anyone struggling with anxiety has a demon, but I am suggesting that anxiety—no matter its cause—may be significantly helped by music.
And not just any music.
Philippians 4:8 has been popularized and emblazoned on everything from t-shirts, paintings, and murals, but its truths are as relevant and influential today as they were the day the Apostle Paul penned them: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
Focusing our attention not on what is driving us mad with anxiety but instead redirecting it to dwell on truth, on what is noble and pure, etc. will help usher in the peace we so desperately crave. King Saul hired David—who would eventually take his throne—to play the harp. It was then that David wrote some of the Psalms, and when he redirected Saul’s anxiety to a focus on God, Saul became calm.
Anxiety is a personal experience for me and one I don’t write about lightly. To combat it, I built a playlist of songs that help me direct my mind on things other than that which I’m fearing.
1. “Peace Be Still” by Hope Darst
Imagine the storm, the ship tossing, racing to find Jesus below deck as he rests. Your heart is racing. Death waits. He stands and spreads his hands over the waters and says, “Peace be still.” The water calms. This song, performed by Hope Darst, takes the listener through a thrumming ballad reminding us that no matter the circumstances raging around, peace will come, it will still, and he will set you on a rock. On a foundation that will not crumble.
2. “Truth I’m Standing On” by Leanna Crawford
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the truth on which we stand and that it isn’t our strength that holds us fast to that truth. If you’re suffering from anxiety and you listen to this song, you will be reminded of purpose and that nothing—nothing¬—is without the active hand of God working in your life.
3. “Great You Are” by Jordan Smith
One of the most difficult parts of anxiety and worry is surrendering control. Anxiety is a fight to know the outcome, maintain control, and preserve ourselves in security. Jordan Smith sings an astounding and powerful melody of lyrics that walk us through a journey of releasing our burdens and receiving peace in return.
4. “Way Maker” by Mandisa
Sometimes, we need to be reminded that someone will rescue us. To be reminded of His promises and His light. This tune will redirect your attention to God Himself, to His attributes, to who He is, and to what He does on our behalf.
5. “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong United
One of the most comforting things in a difficult journey is not walking it alone. Referencing the Old Testament story of the three men thrown into the fiery furnace, this song reminds us of the heavenly presence that joined them and walked through the fire with them. The imagery is powerful as you recognize the fire you’re in and know that the Lord is there too, in the trenches, along with you. He has never left.
6. “Be Alright” by Evan Craft/Danny Gokey
Adult lullabies are the best, and this one can easily go on replay as you fall asleep. Its simplistic message reassures us that everything will be okay. With a pleasant mix of Spanish and English, the words soothe as we’re reminded that we are in His hands.
7. “Singing Over Me” by Tori Harper
When we’re asking difficult questions, the chorus of this song helps us recall that He has kept us in His sight. That He sings over us as He makes a way through the desert, the wilderness, and that He takes delight in us.
8. “Into the Sea” by Tasha Layton
Broken heart? An aching that seethes with anxiety? We all can relate to those times in life where it feels as if the world is falling to pieces. In the words of this song, “the mountain may be moved into the sea.” The despair is juxtaposed to the hope that comes from a God who is larger than catastrophes and that we can continue forward with confidence.
9. “Battle Belongs” by Phil Wickham
This is a fight song. This is an “enter into battle and fight it on your knees” sort of song that will get your heart beating with confidence that comes only from knowing the Lord leads you into and through the battle. Picture a victorious battle scene from your favorite movie when you listen to this song. Think of that victorious moment when the hero raises his sword and charges forward in a battle cry. That is God on our behalf. Be brave.
10. “Run to the Father” by Cody Carnes
Reminding ourselves where we run to when we’re burdened, empty, and afraid is so important. Being reminded of the father heart of God is also critical as we learn that His arms are open and ready to hold us. To love us. To shield and protect us.
While listening to music may not completely erase your anxiety, it is proven to help diminish it. You may find you need to put the same song(s) on repeat. You may also find that if you stop hearing them, your anxiety returns in full force. That is okay! Don’t see that as a defeat! No. Turn the music on again, have it play while you sleep, take a shower, drive to work, etc. In a way, it’s like singing Scripture or Scriptural truths over your anxieties. You weren’t meant to fight anxiety alone.
And remember: anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean your faith is small or lacking. Anxiety is a part of being human, and the Lord knew this when He created music, and He gave us His Word. He is our comfort in our time of need, our rock in our storms, our warrior in our battles, and most of all, His music saturating our spirits is a balm or an elixir when we need it so desperately. Don’t be afraid to hit repeat. Anxiety doesn’t take a break; why should our worship?
Jaime Jo Wright is the winner of the Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. The Christy Award-Winning author of “The House on Foster Hill”, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!