Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble announced in a press release that books about anxiety had seen a 26% rise in sales year-on-year. Undoubtedly, we are living in the Age of Anxiety, which is a result of our fast-paced lives, a lack of stability, constant comparisons with others, and numerous other factors.
While I was glad to hear that books offering guidance on anxiety were selling well (as I’ve written one of them), we should always remember that the Bible, the best-selling book of all time, also addresses anxiety in a great number of places. One of the overall messages of the Bible is that we should have faith in God, and that this faith helps us to overcome anxiety and hardship.
With this in mind, I have put below five of my favorite Bible phrases that help us to fight anxiety.
One: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
This quote is remarkable for its concise and unequivocal message. Both clauses give a very precise command. The first introduces the notion of trust — something which we often forget about. Our relationship with God is supposed to be a trusting one. Further to that, we are to trust him unquestioningly, and completely. The second clause, “lean not on your own understanding”, reminds us that we humans do not have the depth to understand everything about our lives, or even life itself. Reason and logic are excellent, but they do not explain life or many aspects of our daily lives. God has given us much on this Earth, but not everything. We are to look to him for the things that we cannot understand.
Two: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” – Psalms 30:5
How many of us have had a sleepless night? Our minds go over the same thing, again and again, exploring and inventing all sorts of possibilities, and arriving at no conclusions in the process. This verse from Psalms reassures us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The verse is also metaphorical: your “night” may actually be a longer period of time, but there is the promise of joy coming. We must accept that there will be hard times, and at the same time, we must admit to ourselves that these hard times will not last forever.
Three: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
Like the first verse mentioned above, this verse from 1 Peter is direct and unambiguous. It has a nice New Testament quality in the second clause, emphasizing God’s concern for us. Again, the message is that we must trust God with our worries, and not dwell on them. Here, we see God as a father, taking on the burdens of his children. There is no limit to the amount of anxiety that God can bear, for he is all-powerful and all-knowing.
Four: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
I have written about this verse before, from Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount (click here for full article) in the Gospel of Matthew. The emphasis is on avoiding worry, rather than discarding care. While it is unwise to completely disregard any care for tomorrow, or the future, we must not let this become an emotional burden, i.e. a worry. Jesus fully acknowledges that life is tough, and that even a day is not easy to get through. In fact, the King James Bible translates the last sentence in the verse as “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof”. Jesus is also advising us that one day should be the limit of our worrying.
Five: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
I particularly like this verse, as it tells us to avoid being anxiety-ridden while also mentioning the power of prayer — and how to pray. When we are praying, our prayers should not sound simply like a wish-list or have a demanding tone. We should approach God in a gentle and submissive way, thanking him for all of the good things that he has given us, and praising him. Of course, sometimes we are overwhelmed by emotion and neglect to do this, and God understands. But in our most lucid moments, we should be approaching God and always being conscious that he is our omniscient and omnipotent ruler, and is to be revered. Notice how the verse does not restrict us in any way: we are told not to be anxious about anything, and that we should pray to God in every situation.