Anxiety is a mental health condition, and its exact causes are incredibly complex. But for some, anxiety is a question of faith. Those with a strong religious background often wonder why God would let them suffer from anxiety and what the bible says about how to reduce it.
This article explores anxiety in the bible, along with information about what the bible says about relieving anxiety and information on next steps.
Free Will and Anxiety Choices
One of the first things you learn from God is that you need to be responsible for the choices you make in this world. That means that if you suffer from anxiety, you need to be willing to commit to recovery. Take my anxiety test to learn more about how to recover from anxiety.
God and Anxiety - Understanding Happiness
It says time and time again in the bible that God is love, and God wants us to find that level of happiness and contentment that allows us to be good people, and contribute to the love that we're supposed to share with God.
Anxiety prevents that. Anxiety prevents happiness, energy, and in some cases it can try to prevent faith. Make sure you take my anxiety test to learn more about how anxiety affects you, but understand that shaking your faith and changing your thought processes to be more negative and hopeless is actually a symptom of anxiety.
What God Says About the Causes of Anxiety
The bible does not state what causes anxiety, because God considers anxiety to be a crisis of faith. In many ways anxiety shows that the person has not yet been able to put full trust in God, because fear itself is something that is meant to be relinquished as every person is meant to be part of God's plan. As it is said in Matthew 6:27:
"And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?
In other words, what does being anxious do that helps you? This is a question not just of religion, but also about anxiety itself. There are those that struggle with anxiety and panic attacks every day, worrying that they may be suffering from a dangerous disease or at risk for many dangers. But what does worrying about the disease do to cure it? What does thinking that you may be at risk for danger do to improve your life?
The answer is that worrying about anxiety does nothing to improve one's lifespan, both in longevity and in quality. It's simply the result of uncertainty, and the bible teaches the idea that uncertainty is, essentially, distrust with the plan of God. It's not that anxiety is a sin (although that depends on how you interpret the bible and the outcome of prayer), but that anxiety is the act of experiencing fears and worries that one shouldn't experience if they truly follow and show commitment to God.
What The Bible Says About Curing Anxiety
There are several bible verses that relate to how to cure anxiety using both God and scripture. The easiest way to understand them is to look at each individual cause of anxiety:
- Coping Issues
- Lack of Control/Abuse
Anxiety has a behavioral component and can be learned through interactions with your parents and others, and some types of anxiety - like panic attacks - are far more complex than the issues above, but those are the basic causes of anxiety. Each one is addressed by various bible verses.
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you." Isaiah, 41:10
Fear is specifically addressed in the bible multiple times. The bible explains that God always has a plan, and those that truly believe that anything that happens is God's will shouldn't experience the same fear, especially when not in danger. Fear is a natural human emotion, but those that experience fear when no fear is present are likely struggling to believe in God's plan, or trusting in the ultimate outcome.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own - you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Studies have consistently shown that a lack of exercise can cause anxiety. That would imply that anxiety can be caused by something other than lost faith with God, because activity/inactivity isn't necessarily related to prayer and belief. The bible often focuses on the idea that we live life in order to reach heaven, but biblical experts have been split on this idea because it also implies that we're not supposed to enjoy or live a happy life now. Since exercise appears at first glance to have little to do with the afterlife or loving God, it would stand to reason that one needn't exercise provided they share belief and prayer.
But the Corinthian's verse tells a different story. It implies that healthy living - including exercise - is actually a way of paying respect to God. Because God gave you the body and soul and God is inside you, and so taking care of your body - including exercise - is the same as taking care of God's gift. It's a sign of respect and care, and shows that the life God gave is valued.
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
The ability to cope with life stress is a skill. It's something that can be lost. The bible teaches the idea that, while there are many ways to learn to cope with stress, the most powerful is simply believing in God. Belief and faith in the Lord are the only place one needs to turn to learn how to cope with stress, because God delivers that help each and every day.
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11-12
Major life change can also cause anxiety, presumably because it represents a loss of the support and comfort you had from daily life. A move, a lost loved one, and even a lost pet or activity can all represent change, and change can be a stressful and problematic event.
But according to the bible, change is also a part of God's plan. Therefore, belief in God and faith in God will help you feel that there is no such thing as a bad change. All change is a part of God's plan, and so all change will be accepted and cause less anxiety.
Lack of Control/Abuse
"A man cannot discover anything about his future" Ecclesiastes 7:14
Toxic workplaces, troubled relationships, abuse, or simply life events not turning out as expected, there are issues that can cause you to feel as though you're losing control. But the bible reminds you that you're not actually in control. God is in control. While you have free will to choose what you please, God is the one that makes the ultimate choice, and that whatever you experience is part of God's plan for you. As it is said in Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."
Learning From the Bible About Anxiety
What the bible says about anxiety is that ultimately the more you live in line with God, and the more of your heart you give to Him, the less power anxiety will have over you. Anxiety is about worries, concerns, fears, and the feeling as though you are unsure how to cope with the world around you. Belief in God, according to the bible, is about complete trust and faith - immersing yourself in God's love and dedicating yourself to Him is the path to a content and fear free life.
But it should be noted that both the bible and most religious scholars agree that God also places people, ideas, and things on earth for a reason. There are psychologists, herbs, and self-help tips for controlling anxiety that are both effective and exist. It's not a sin to try to treat your anxiety yourself, provided you do so while acknowledging the gifts from God.
Take my anxiety test now if you haven't yet to learn more about what you can do to relieve your anxiety while still staying in touch with God and your beliefs.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.