What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety (Worry, Fear)?

What are we talking about?

When we talk about anxiety, what do we mean? Miriam-Webster defines anxiety as “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious.”¹ Anxiety is often associated with worry, particularly about the future or things unseen. Ultimately, anxiety is characterized by a spirit of fear. Other words for anxiety: worry, fear, apprehension, uncertainty.

What does the Bible say?

The Bible has a lot to say about anxiety, although the word “anxiety” itself is not often used. For example, Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Anxiety is a burden on the believer. The Bible speaks often to this idea of “burden.” In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In other words, our worries, anxieties and fears are not to be carried alone. Jesus has called us to give them to Him.

How, then, should we live?

In Matthew 6:31-34, Jesus reminds us of the futility of worry and anxiety. He recalls God’s ultimate control of all things: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Although there are many things we can allow ourselves to worry about, Jesus calls on us to focus on the day at hand and that our ultimate priority should be to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, with the belief that he will supply our needs. The writer of Proverbs 30:8-9 asks God to supply for his needs, rather than too much or too little, just that which is sufficient, saying, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”

Put off anxiety and put on what?

Ephesians 5:22-24 introduces the concept of putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new man.” Since anxiety is not part of God’s plan for how we should live, we ought to put it off as being a part of our old selves and replace it with something new from God. Philippians 4:6-7 states, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The NIV translates this as “Do not be anxious about anything.” Instead of anxiety, we ought to have peace, knowing that God cares for us and will supply our needs, as verse 19 says, “... my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Is it wrong for me to struggle with anxiety?

Of course not. Even Christ struggled with anxiety and worry in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He knew he would be arrested (Matthew 26: 36-46). However, if we let our anxieties swirl in our mind unchecked, we risk allowing our faith in God to be choked out, as demonstrated in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:22, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”

The evangelist, George Müller​, stated, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” Anxieties can hurt our faith unchecked, but our faith in Christ can overcome them. We do not need to let our anxieties control us, nor do we need to let them be our identity. Instead of saying “I’m an anxious person,” say “I’m a follower of Christ that struggles with anxiety.” Your identity is in Christ first, not in your struggles.

Also, seek fellow believers to come alongside you, to pray for you when you are feeling anxious or worried about the future. Christ has given us victory over our temptations and fears, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Also, don’t be ashamed to seek out the help of a licensed Biblical counselor to help you work through your anxieties as well. (Great placement if we have any partnerships with any Christian counselors)

Finally, if you’re struggling with anxiety and haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, you can find out how to be saved here (article that I’ve drawn up and will attach).