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What the Bible Says About Anxiety

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According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, with 40% of adults ages 18 and older having been diagnosed with it. Over the course of the last 12-18 months, those numbers have grown steadily. With an ongoing global pandemic, Covid-19 has brought about even more anxiety than most people dealt with before. Pew Research conducted a study that indicates that roughly 21% of Americans say that they are experiencing high levels of mental distress as the pandemic enters its second year. The same study says that 1/3 of Americans say that they’ve experienced a high level of mental distress at some point during the pandemic.

Whether its because of the fear of catching the virus, the worry and grief associated with a friend or family member testing positive, the impact that the illness has had on the economy or the fact that most of us are living much more isolated lifestyles than we have experienced in the past, the fact remains that this ongoing pandemic has caused a great amount of anxiety for most Americans. When the anxiety and fear associated with a global pandemic like we’ve never seen before is combined with the social unrest, widespread violence and other news events that continue to paint out a picture of doom and gloom, it’s easy to become so arrested by anxiety that its hard to go on. Fortunately, God’s Word provides plenty of verses that can help us navigate our way through these unprecedented times while finding a place of comfort and solace in the truth of His promises to us.

Before we take a dive into some verses that tackle anxiety, it’s important to understand that there is nothing sinful or shameful about experiencing anxiety, seeking professional mental help and acknowledging that you’re like one of the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with anxiety. While God’s Word does provide us with a powerful tool that we can use against the lies of the enemy (Ephesians 6:17), it’s also important to realize that God has blessed us with access to doctors and medications that can combat the neurological component to anxiety and other mental health diseases. God’s Word provides powerful truths that you can pray and claim over your own life, but if you do have anxiety, you are certainly encouraged to seek the medical assistance of a licensed provider.

Now, let’s take a look at some powerful verses from Scripture that we can claim when feelings of anxiety leave us feeling weak, vulnerable and even hopeless.

Isaiah 35:4 (ESV)
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

Isaiah prophesied during some of the darkest times in Israel’s history. Throughout most of his ministry, Isaiah saw the people of Israel either living their lives in captivity or under attack by neighboring countries who wanted to carry them off into captivity. That’s what makes this verse (and others in the book of Isaiah) so powerful. God sent word to people that He knew had anxious hearts. He promised that He would come against the countries that rose up against His people with vengeance. The same God who promised to come and save Israel will come and save you!

Philippians 4:6-7 (TPT)
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:6 is one of the most popular verses that people point to when discussing anxiety. Many translations say, “be anxious about nothing.” However, The Passion Translation paints a picture of what anxiety does to us. With so much going on in the world around us, it often feels like we’re being pulled in different directions at all times. The Bible says that to combat that tug of war-type feeling, we should be saturated in prayer. We can be filled with faith, make our requests known to God and be thankful for the way that we’ve seen Him move in our lives before. When we become filled with prayer, faith and thanksgiving, the feelings of anxiety seem significantly smaller.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

One of the scariest parts about the events of the last year or so has been the fact that most of us have no had any of the answers needed to get through it. Even the most renowned scientists in the world have struggled to come up with the answers that society needed as we tried to navigate through these uncharted waters. Not having the answers can be a source of anxiety. However, King Solomon, who was the wisest man to ever live said in Proverbs 3:5 that not relying on our own understanding is a great way to overcome anxiety. Instead of being afraid of not having all the answers, embrace the fact that only God has the answers that we need and put all of your hope and faith in Him.

Luke 12:22-26 (TPT)
Jesus taught his disciples, saying, “Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing. For your life is infinitely more than just food or the clothing you wear. Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from his love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God! Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? So if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?”

This teaching of Jesus on anxiety opens up with a strong charge: never let anxiety enter your hearts. There is a difference in having anxiety enter your mind and letting it enter your heart. When thoughts that can produce anxiety enter your mind, the Bible says that we can take those thoughts captive and put them under subjection to the truth of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5). However, when anxiety enters your heart, it begins to control your thoughts, words and actions. If you have ever spent any amount of time in nature, you may have noticed the way that birds and other animals just leisurely stroll or fly through nature and eat and drink what they need. They don’t appear to be in a panic about where their next meal is going to come from. If God provides for these birds, how much more will He take care of the people that He gave His Only Son to save? You and I are more precious to God than the birds of the air. Because of that, we can be carefree in the care of God.

There is nothing shameful about admitting that you struggle with anxiety. However, the power of the Holy Spirit can help you overcome that anxiety and rest in the power of the fact that God will always meet the needs of His children. He loves you; He cares for you and He will protect you.

A Closing Prayer:

God, you know the amount of anxiety that I have experienced. You know the fact that I can barely sleep at night because I am so overwhelmed by the feelings of doubt and uncertainty that race through my mind and heart. Help me to saturate myself in prayer and stand on the promises of Your Word that assure me that You care for me. I’m thankful and I will lean on Your truth over my own understanding. In Christ’s name, Amen!