Matthew 6:31-33 records Jesus saying, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Similarly, Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Basically, the Bible tells us not to be anxious. But it does more than that.
Does the Bible say anything about anxiety?
The reason we are instructed to not be anxious is that God knows we will be. If we were not going to struggle with anxiety, God would have no need to command against it. He also does not simply tell us not to be anxious; He gives us ways to assuage our worries.
First, we need not be anxious because we can trust in the character of God. We are told that He knows our needs and that He is faithful to provide for them. It is because of His love, care, power, and mercy that we can trust God and therefore not worry. Second, when we are anxious, we can cast our worries on the Lord. First Peter 5:6-7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." Psalm 55:22 carries the same message. We do not need to hold on to the burden of our anxieties. We can voice them to the Lord and then leave them in His capable hands.
Often, we are made most anxious by our thoughts. This is one reason we are wise to heed the command to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). When we are aware of what we are thinking and are able to evaluate those thoughts based on the truth of the Bible, we will not be defeated by our thoughts. Rather than ruminating on worry, we will recognize the thought and claim victory over it by the power of Christ and our trust in His loving care.
Accepting the peace of God through prayer, controlling our thoughts, and trusting in God's faithfulness are often easier said than done. Some people struggle with anxiety to the point of debilitation. For this type of anxiety, God has given us the intellect to discover other ways of coping. These people may find help for their anxiety through community (much like the body of Christ working together or believers serving to edify and care for one another). They may also find support through counseling. Both community support and counseling support can help people in evaluating their thoughts and altering their behavior to lessen anxiety. In this way they serve as assistants to the truth of the Bible. Anxiety is also biologically experienced. Sometimes the chemicals in our brains malfunction and leave us in a state of panic or chronic worry. There is medication that can help restore our bodies to function the way they were meant to. These various resources are helpful adjuncts to learning to cast our anxieties on the Lord and receiving His peace.
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