How many times is anxiety mentioned in the Bible? (what does the Bible say about anxiety?)

Anxiety is a real challenge, and as a pastor, I encounter many people from my church who seek counseling due to anxiety. Besides asking them to seek medical help to ease their anxiety, it is my duty to support those in my congregation feeling anxious due to different life events by praying with them and for them. During my free time, I read the Bible to know what it says about anxiety and also determine some bible verses about anxiety. To have an in-depth understanding of how well the Bible has covered this topic, I recently started research to know; how many times is anxiety mentioned in the Bible?

The New King James Version mentions the word anxiety 4 times in the Old Testament. The New International Version mentions it 7 times, 5 times in the Old Testament and 2 times in the New Testament. The Good News Translation mentions anxiety 6 times, 5 times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament. Some translations do not use the word anxiety at all, and synonyms such as worry, trembling heart, distress, fearful heart, heaviness, and anguish of heart are used in its place.

In this article, join me to learn more about anxiety and what the Bible says about it. Keep reading!

What does the Bible say about anxiety? 

The holy book has much to say about anxiety, but the word itself is not often found throughout the Bible. The Bible views anxiety as something that causes harm to those experiencing it. For instance, Proverbs 12:25 states that it weighs down the heart or causes depression, as in other translations.   

In most instances in the Bible, anxiety is a sinful fear that people get after disobeying God. For example, in Ezekiel 4:16 and Ezekiel 12:19, God tells Ezekiel that the people of Jerusalem would eat their food in anxiety since He will cut off their bread supply because of their iniquities. However, not all anxiety results from sinful fear; at times, it is out of a deep concern for God, like in 1 Corinthians 7:32, which says that an unmarried man is anxious about how to please God.

Where does anxiety first appear in the Bible?

what does the Bible say about anxiety?
Where does anxiety first appear in the Bible? Image source: Pixabay

The word anxiety appears first in different books, depending on the translation. The English Standard Version (ESV) has the earliest appearance of the word in 1 Samuel 1:16, where Hannah is speaking to Eli, saying that she was speaking out of great anxiety when she was praying for a child, and the priest asks God to grant her petition. In the New International Version (NIV), the word anxiety first appears in Psalm 94:19, where the author says that God’s consolation brought him joy when anxiety seized him. In the New King James Version (NKJV), anxiety is first seen in Proverbs 12:25, which says that anxiety causes depression, but good words make the heart happy.  

Examples of anxiety in the Bible

There are many instances where people were anxious in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 1:16priest Eli thought Hannah was drunk, but she told him that she was troubled in spirit and was pouring her soul before God, speaking out of great anxiety since she could not conceive.

In Daniel 7:15, Daniel was anxious because of his vision of the four beasts since he did not understand what it meant. In Ezekiel 12:19, God set out to strip Jerusalem of everything due to their sins, and the people would henceforth eat in anxiety until they repented and returned to God. In Micah 1:12, the people of Maroth waited for good with anxiety since God had sent disaster to them. In the book of Esther, in chapter 4, the people were distressed and in great anxiety after a royal order allowing them to be killed.

There are also examples of anxiety in the New Testament. Matthew 6:25 outlines some instances that can cause anxiety, such as worrying about what you will eat and drink and what to wear. The verse tells us not to be anxious about our lives since God will see us through the same way He feeds birds, and they do not toil, and in the same way, He clothes the lilies.

1 Corinthians 7:32  also urges us to be free from all anxieties, and go further to explain some anxieties that we experience, for instance, an unmarried man is anxious about how to please God, and according to  1 Corinthians 7:33, a married man gets anxious due to worldly things. In the same way, 1 Corinthians 7:34 states that an unmarried woman worries about how to please the Lord, while a married one is anxious about how to make her husband happy.

How to overcome anxiety according to the Bible

How many times is anxiety mentioned in the Bible?
How to overcome anxiety according to the Bible. Image source: Pixabay

The Bible urges us to overcome anxiety through prayers and supplication in Philippians 4:6The Bible also asks us to walk by faith and trust in God fully. Luke 12:22 onwards to verse 32, Jesus told his disciples not to be anxious about anything about their life, what they will eat, drink or put on. He asked them to consider the ravens that do not sow or reap and do not have a barn, yet God feeds them. Jesus reminds us that we are more important to God than the birds; therefore, we should not be anxious but walk by faith that God will provide. God knows of all our needs; thus, we should seek his kingdom, and everything else will be added to us. In 1 Peter 5:7the author reminds us to cast all our anxiety on God because he cares for us. 

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