The ancient Scriptures are a surprising source of support in our struggles with stress.
This is the third in a six-part series of essays from a cross section of leading scholars revisiting the place of the “First Testament” in contemporary Christian faith. —The editors
I am a millennial statistic. Dubbed “the anxious generation,” most of us are stressed, and we experience work-disrupting anxiety at twice the average rate. We are leaders of the mental health crisis in a world where many think anxiety is generally on the rise.
Until recently, I didn’t think I was an anxious person. Then, in a single year, I finished writing my PhD thesis in England, worked multiple part-time jobs to pay the bills, tore my MCL (with a wife 36 weeks pregnant), became a first-time father, found an academic job, got a work visa, moved across the Atlantic, found housing, completed my first term of teaching, and defended my doctoral thesis. By no means was all of this bad or world-ending—some of it was very good. But at the end of it all, I was burned out and anxious.
My story isn’t unique. Workplaces are increasingly mobile, creating the risk of isolation and overwork. Young people are told to go anywhere and do anything, but their mental health is paying the price. And that’s to say nothing of weightier problems like addiction, abuse, chronic illness, joblessness, homelessness, and a host of others that afflict so many today. A thriving wellness industry has risen in response, complete with Instagram therapists, wellness dogs, and stress-relief toys. As a Christian, you can feel tension—even guilt—when a doctor or a self-help book improves your mental health more than a Bible reading.
As someone who has sought professional help for anxiety, I can say that my own recovery …