How I Overcame Anxiety and Depression Through Praise and Worship

Years ago, depression and anxiety tried to ruin my life.

But what the enemy meant for evil, God worked for good! I’ve written my story below, and also share it in this video set to the music “Praise You in This Storm”. I choreographed and danced it to tell of God’s goodness and love, and also as a testament to the power of praise and worship. Watch the video then read the story below to learn how God set me free! I pray it will be an encouragement to you, especially during this trying season with the global pandemic.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11

My Story: How I Overcame Anxiety and Depression Through Praise and Worship

When life hurts, when we’re anxious and depressed and the storm clouds are gathering, we typically don’t feel like praising God. Yet this is exactly the time we need to praise him most. Before I share my story, I’d like to give a definition of praise, and briefly highlight some of its powerful benefits.
To praise God means to say good things about him, to honor and worship him, to celebrate his goodness and grace, to give him thanks and adore his holy name. Praise is a form of prayer, since essentially we are talking to God. There are many ways to praise God. In the Psalms we find expressions of praise through song and dance, the lifting of hands, clapping, and the playing of instruments.
It’s easy to praise God and declare his goodness when life feels good. It’s harder when life feels bad, when we’re broken and bitter, anxious and afraid. That’s when it’s called a “sacrifice of praise,” because we don’t feel like celebrating God’s goodness, but we do it anyway, simply because he is worthy. God doesn’t need our praise, but he certainly desires it and knows it will help us through our storms.
When we praise God, we benefit in powerful ways:
  • Our thoughts turn from self to God, and enable us to better experience his presence and peace.
  • We learn humility, trust, and dependence on God.
  • We make room in our heart and mind for God’s power to work and drive out the darkness.
  • Our pain takes on purpose, and our heartache turns to hope!
My Story . . .
Years ago, I didn’t know all this. Praising God was mostly for sunny days. That’s when it seemed easy to sing worship songs, give thanks, and declare, “God is good!”
But then, God took me through a very dark and stormy valley where I struggled daily with emotional and physical pain. Suddenly, it felt almost impossible to sing God’s praise. But I still cried to him for help.
Some days, the emotional and physical pain seemed too much to bear. Feelings of hopelessness plagued me while struggling with anxiety and depression. I also struggled to eat and became horribly thin. My family was so worried and helped the best they could. I often became teary and complained to God, and even grappled with doubts wondering if he truly loved me.
It took many months trudging through the valley of despair to understand that hope is birthed not only by crying to God for help, but also through praise and worship. In other words, we not only pray, “Dear God, please help me, heal me, deliver me…” We also declare and celebrate his goodness and love through song or by whatever means possible, even though things don’t seem to be going our way.
So that is what I did, day after day, night after night, month after month, through the valley, through the storm . . .
  • Worship music played almost non-stop in my house.
  • I sang God’s praise even when my body ached and my mind felt weary.
  • I lifted my arms to heaven while singing, even though my heart was heavy.
  • I prayed, talking to God about my troubles throughout the day, even though I wondered if he was listening.
  • I trusted in his promises, putting one foot in front of the other, even though I felt afraid.
  • I gave thanks to God in my pain, even when I didn’t feel thankful.
  • I worshiped and praised him, while clinging to the promise that God loved me and was always with me.
I did all these imperfectly, but I’m certain that God saw my sacrifice of praise and drew near to me as I drew near to him.
My situation didn’t change over night, but I was slowly changing. . .
  • Rather than feeling hopeless, I began to sense glimmers of hope.
  • Rather than feeling discouraged, I began to sense seedlings of courage.
  • Rather than thinking God had forgotten me, I became more and more aware of his goodness and love.
  • Rather than feeling anxious and alone, I began to experience the peace of his presence.
This was all a process. Some days were better than others, but I was still living with depression and fear. I had to persevere. I mention this because all too often we feel like giving up when tough times drag on. But we absolutely cannot give up praising God! He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
It’s also the process that transforms us. Through it all, God was growing my faith and building my character, while showing me that his grace is sufficient. He was also teaching me about letting go, trusting him, surrendering to his will, and placing my hope in him, rather than in my circumstances and feelings.
From darkness to light!
Then, one glorious Autumn day I was driving along a long country road. Suddenly, I felt the entire burden of the depression lift. It was as if someone had come and literally lifted it off my shoulders. I immediately knew it was the hands of my sweet Savior setting me free. I pulled over because I was so excited. I immediately called my husband and shared the miracle while crying tears of joy!

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

The Dream
Shortly after God brought me through the storm, I had a dream. In the dream, I saw myself dancing and a story filled with hope unfolded before me. When I awoke, I immediately sensed it was from God and felt compelled to choreograph and dance what I saw in the dream, which portrayed the journey he had just brought me through.
Soon after, I heard the song “Praise You in This Storm,” by Casting Crowns. It had the perfect lyrics for my story. Here is the refrain …
“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
 
After the dream came the song, then the steps, and then the desire to have it filmed. It became obvious that God was leading and wanted me to share my story from heartache to hope!
Filming the Dance
After preparing for several weeks, we finally filmed it. I recall feeling a bit weak that day (my body and mind were still healing), and wondered if I’d be able to dance. But as I leaned on God, he gave me strength. I had asked two of my ballet students to dance alongside portraying God’s ministering angels. I believe God was still ministering to me even while dancing in the video. I’m still in awe when I think how God brought all the pieces together— he provided strength, creativity, a beautiful location to film, and even an amazing professional videographer.
After we were done filming and I watched the video, it really hit home that God had an awesome purpose for my pain. Had I never gone through that storm, I may never have had the awesome opportunity to testify about the power of praise.
If you’re going through a storm right now, remember that you are not alone. God deeply loves you, he sees your pain, and walks with you through every valley and storm. I’m praying that God will use this music/dance video to help you experience the power of his presence through praise, and find your hope in him. I pray that you won’t wait to be free from sorrow and pain to lift your voice in praise, but that you’ll praise him even now. Sing/pray with me the refrain from the song:
“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
These lyrics are so powerful! They remind us that Jesus is our closest and most intimate friend, who never leaves our side! No mater how bad life feels, (even if anxiety or depression tries to rear it’s ugly head again after making progress) keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, meditate on his promises and all that is good. Sing a favorite worship song or hymn. Play soothing worship music throughout the day and into the night. Do whatever it takes to live a life of praise, on sunny days, rainy days, and especially on stormy days . . . because no matter the weather, God is worthy. And praising God is powerful, and good for the soul.
May God turn your mourning into joyful dancing, as you contemplate his goodness and love, and offer up praise!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:2 
Stay tune for part 2 of my story, which tells of the years following, and how I continue to turn to praise and worship for daily freedom and joy!

Dance Video credits: I do not own rights to the music. Lyric credits, Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, Music performed by Casting Crowns ( Lifesong). Videogram liscense obtained. Choreography copyright © 2007 Leila Grandemange
More dance videos from Leila
Bible verses, to help you praise God in the storm
Leila Grandemange is a Christian author, speaker, devotional writer, choreographer and dancer. For more information on having Leila speak or choreograph at your ministry event, please use the contact form.
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Check out my latest book, Pawz & Pray: Finding Joy in the Journey with God, Family, and Furry Friends!
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