What Does the Bible Say About Anxiety?

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Because of the world we live in, it is nearly impossible to go throughout our lives without experiencing anxiety in some fashion. Today, anxiety appears in many different forms to people of different ages, races, genders, and classes. For some people, it is an everyday battle. Others, may not even realize what they are experiencing is anxiety. It is also viewed in a variety of ways because of the vast ways people experience it. 

While this is a very challenging topic, we do not seek to try to tell anyone how to find a bandaid cure, but rather, we desire to know and to show the love of Christ. 

Anxiety In the Bible

The Bible shows several instances of anxiousness. For example, in Genesis 32, Jacob (whose name is eventually changed to Israel) flees his homeland to get away from his angry brother. When he returns, he is said to be “greatly afraid and distressed.” Anxiety and worries cannot be resolved overnight. It can take an entire life devoted to faith in God to work itself out through love. 

What is Anxiety?

It is important to understand that anxiety is part of a fight or flight response that God designed in us. This response is meant to be triggered in times of danger. This can cause a mental and/or physical response which to extremes may require medical help to address what originally caused the fear.

The New Testament and Anxiety

Many of us know the Philippians 4:6 verse where Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything…” Of course, when we experience anxiety and stress we may be tempted to say “Easy for you to say, Paul!” However, we know that Paul was imprisoned, likely to be executed, when he wrote this letter to the Philippians. He should have been very anxious! 

But let’s see what he was saying in this passage: 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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” (Philippians 4:4-7).

What The Bible Means by “Do Not Be Anxious”

The Bible says more than just saying “do not be anxious”, it gives us many reasons why we do not need to be anxious. Consider what Jesus says in John 14:27. Notice that Paul does not say that by constant prayer to God, you will have no more anxiety. He instead says that the Peace of God will protect our hearts and minds through the work of Christ Jesus. Paul is taking an eternal perspective to say that the situation that causes us anxiety may not change, but we can find peace in knowing that ultimately, we have eternal life through the work of Jesus. 

This phrase “find peace” though is frustrating. You may be thinking, “Great, all I need to do is find peace!” But remember, Paul says this takes “prayer and petition.” Petition implies asking over and over again. Paul is instructing the Philippians that when they have anxiety, go to the Lord in prayer over and over again. This may mean doing so for a lifetime! 

For many people, constant prayer may not take them out of anxiety, but it can help anyone to remain focused on the Lord, and as Christians, that is what we are called to do. We are not called to never be anxious, but in our anxiety to come to the feet of Jesus.

What Jesus Says About Anxiety

Paul reminds us to keep an eternal perspective and focus on God in our anxiety and stress. Jesus shows us a little bit more about how He and God the Father feel about us in our anxiety. One excellent example of this is in Matthew 6 where Jesus has just taught about money. Keep the context in mind, Jesus knows that everyone worries about money. He says:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6: 25-27) 

Putting This Into Action

Again, this is easier said than done. But let’s take a closer look at this passage. Why does Jesus say not to worry? Because the Father, who takes care of even the birds, values us even more. Jesus recognized that we were not given the power to change our lives through our worry, stress, and anxiety. This is because He desires to care for us. He wants to clothe and feed us. He does not want us to be anxious, but to rely on Him and His love. Let’s read on from verses 28 through 34.

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Keep in mind that Jesus is not talking about all anxiety. He is discussing the material things that we need. While what Jesus says can be applied to all worry, He is not dismissing anxiety. Oftentimes, mental health does need medical treatment. We believe Jesus as the Healer loves anyone who struggles with anxiety all the more. We seek instead to show Jesus’ heart toward us. He loves us and desires us not to be anxious about our daily needs, but to trust Him to provide for us.

What This Means For Us

Ultimately, we may not be freed from anxiety until Heaven, but we know that our security is in the One who Loves us and has allowed us to know Him. Paul and Jesus both are asking us to draw near to the Lord in our anxiety. Rather than something that hinders your relationship with God, no matter how hard it is, use it as a reason to come to the Lord each day. And as you draw near to Him, God often allows us to encourage others who have similar stories as we do. 

Steps Forward

The Bible says lots more about anxiety and we encourage you to study your Bible for yourself. The Word of God is living and active, meaning that it does have power because God is still powerful. We believe that all of us should be living in constant prayer. Whether we are praying for our anxiety, the anxiety of a loved one, our daily needs, or the many other things going on in our lives, we believe that God desires for us to come to Him.

If you are interested in learning more about us, and the community here at ORBC, or need prayer, please connect with us. We would love to talk more with you!

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