Bible Verses to Help You Cope with Anxiety

Anxiety
Anxiety (Photo credit: Rima Xaros)

Last week I posted a set of three articles dealing with the issue of anxiety.  These posts came about primarily as a result of  response to a sermon I had preached the Sunday before.  I was shocked by the number of people who stopped me in the halls, or came by my office during the days after the message to talk about their struggles with anxiety.  In the midst, it occurred to me that this is a much larger problem for Christians than I had imagined.  Here are the links to the three articles I posted last week:

  1. The Soul Corroding Acid of Anxiety – this article deals with the causes of anxiety
  2. The Curse of Anxiety– this article looks at the effects of anxiety
  3. The Cure for Anxiety– this article looked at some of the ways to overcome anxiety

This morning I would like to share with some Bible verses to help you cope with anxiety.  I hope that you will take some time to review and memorize some of these verses.  If you have other verses that you have found helpful, please share them with us in the comments section.

BIBLE VERSE TO HELP YOU COPE WITH ANXIETY

1.) If you are anxious about the future.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared” Exodus 23:20

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

2.) If you are worried about finances or material needs

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  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. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:25-34

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Luke 12:25-26

3.) If you are worried about a decision

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. ” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

4.) If you are worried about opposition or enemies

“in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalms 56:11

“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12

5.) If you are worried because you are going through a time of testing.

“Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8

6.) If you are worried because you lack strength.

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

VERSES THAT TELL US WHAT TO DO IN TIMES OF ANXIETY

1.) Overcome Anxiety with Faith

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

2.) Overcome Anxiety with Prayer

“”Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8

“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.” Philippians 4:6-7

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Part 3: The Cure for Anxiety

Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for...
(Photo credit: marsmet481)

A couple of days ago I started a series of posts dealing with the issue of anxiety.  The response to these posts have been overwhelming and goes to show how great an issue this is in our society.  As I shared on Monday, according to Dr. Robert Leahy, “The average American child today exhibits the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950’2.”   In the first two installments of this series we looked at how:

  • Part 1:  The Soul Corroding Acid of Anxiety – In this post we looked at how anxiety is caused by a limited worldview, a low theology, an overestimation of our own ability and underestimating God’s love.
  • Part 2: The Curse of Anxiety – In yesterday’s post we looked at how anxiety traps us in a vicious cycle that never ends up resolving the underlying problems.  It erodes our faith, causing us to trust more in our own abilities than in God’s providential care and how it isolates us from the people who love us the most— including God, our families and our fellow church members.

Today, I would like to turn our attention to the cure for anxiety.  How do we manage and overcome the issues of stress, anxiety and worry in our lives?  I would like to suggest that the Bible points us to at least three steps we can take to counter anxiety in our lives:

  1. Learn to trust God by getting to know Him better this my seem simple but the truth of the matter is that often anxiety in the life of the believer is a sign that we don’t know God as well as we should.  The better we know God the more we will understand His ways and His purposes.  But even more importantly, the more we know Him the better we will learn to trust Him.  Specifically, I would suggest that we focus on understanding His knowledge, His providence, and His ways.  We need to know that God knows what we are going through.  In Matthew 6:31-32 Jesus says, “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 of these things, and Your Father knows that you need them all.” I underlined that last phrase because it is a key to overcoming anxiety.  God knows where you are, what you are going through and what you need.  No matter what is happening in your life right now, GOD KNOWS!  But these verses also teach us that GOD CARES.  He cares for His people by providing what they need in life.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:30, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you…Therefore, do not be anxious…” God knows, God Cares, and God provides.  Learn to trust Him by getting to know Him better and you will be able to overcome the issue of anxiety in your life.
  2. Make the things of God the number on priority in your life– far too often we experience anxiety simply because our priorities are out of line with God’s will and purposes.  As human beings we have a tendency to focus an inordinate amount of our attention and concern on the temporal things of this world, and not on eternity.  I have heard people say that someone is “Too heavenly minded to be any earthly good” but my experience is just the opposite.  I have served as a Pastor for nearly twenty years in three different churches and my observation is that far too many Christians are “too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.”  If we would start setting our hearts and affections more on the things of God, I am convinced that our levels of anxiety would decrease.  That is why at the end of this passage in Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Anxiety will always fill the heart of the person who is trapped in the temporal concerns of this world, but peace and contentment will come to those who “seek first the Kingdom of God.”
  3. Remember who holds tomorrow– One of the most important lessons that every believer needs to learn is that God is in control!  There is no reason to worry about the future when you know who holds the future.  So much of our anxiety is caused by a fear of the future.  I shared with you in one of the earlier posts that last month I spent several days in the Intensive care unit with issues relating to my blood pressure.  When I went into the hospital I was having stroke like symptoms — my entire left side went numb and I could not control my hand or leg.  My speech was slurred and for a moment all I could think about was “This is it!”  My older brother had a series of strokes before he died last year and I was certain that things were going to go very badly.  Honestly, while I was laying on the bed in the emergency room waiting for the ambulance to come and take me to Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, KY all I could think about was what it might be like if I did not recover my speech and control of my left side.  I had watched my brother struggle with similar issues and suddenly my future was looking bleak.  I was very scared about what the next days, weeks, months and years would hold in store. The tests showed that this was not a stroke and that the entire problem was created by my blood pressure, which is now being controlled by medication.  But for those few days that I was in the intensive care unit, I learned first hand what anxiety about the future means.  But I also developed a deeper level of trust for the one who holds my future.  The key is this, “None of us can control our future, so we must learn to trust the one who does.”  God is in control and He holds all of our tomorrows.  The more we learn to trust Him today, the less anxiety we will have about tomorrow.

These three posts have attempted to lay out what Jesus has to say about anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34.  I am certain that there is much more that could be said about this subject and would like to invite you to share some of your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.