“People don’t have peace because they’re not praying.”

I cringed when I heard the well-meaning podcaster’s words. Although she wasn’t theologically incorrect, her blanket statement was devoid of context or explanation. As a Christian and someone who had my first panic attack when I was five, I’m hyper-sensitive to sweeping generalizations about why Christ-followers struggle with fear.

And I get even more angsty when someone places the primary responsibility of overcoming my anxiety on what I’m doing or not doing. Of course, praying, loving God, and trusting Him more will help me experience more peace. But the only thing worse than knowing those things and doing them, is still experiencing anxiety and therefore believing it must be my fault.

However, when I read the Bible (instead of relying on pastors and podcasters) I’m re-reminded of the importance of context. In one of my favorite Bible passages there’s a father who wants Jesus to heal his son. The father tells Jesus that although he believes Jesus can do that, he admits he also doubts Jesus can or will.

Jesus does not meet the man’s honesty by telling him to come back after he’s prayed more. He doesn’t chastise the father for not loving or trusting God more. Instead, Jesus helps the man and his son, just like He’s helped me with my anxiety over the years. Unlike Mark 9, my help hasn’t usually come immediately or completely. But I’ve experienced His love and compassion more times than I can count. And I’ve learned over the years that Jesus’ help is better than anything else I’ve tried to ease my crippling fears.

If you’re like me and struggle with anxiety, please don’t believe it’s your fault or that you aren’t doing enough. My Bible says that God’s perfect love for us is what casts out fear (I John 4:18). Experiencing peace isn’t dependent on what we do, but simply knowing and depending on God’s love over and over. I’ve found peace repeatedly in simply admitting I need help and holding onto a shred of hope that Jesus loves and cares for me enough to do so.