Anxiety is a toxic brew of negative emotions—anger, angst, apprehension, tension, worry, discouragement, fear, nervousness, panic, and fretfulness. Forty million Americans battle it consistently, and everyone faces periodic bouts of this devilish dis-ease—me included. My mind seems predisposed to worry about everything. That’s why I’ve devoted years to searching out the Bible best passages for overcoming anxiety. This isn’t a complete list, of course—one could make the case that every verse in the Bible is a knot in the rope that can lift us from our anxieties—but these are some of the verses that have most helped me. Perhaps one of these six verses has your name on it too.
1. Psalm 94:19: When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.
The author of Psalm 94 had been targeted by evildoers who were jubilant and full of boasting (verses 3-4). He had been “crushed” by others (verse 5), and powerful people had abused him (verses 5-7). But just when his foot was slipping and he thought he might be dying, God’s unfailing love supported him and God’s consolations brought him joy amid his anxiety (verses 17-19). What are God’s consolations? Among other things, they are the promises we find in His Word, the sense of His presence in our lives, and the endless blessings He gives us. The word “consolation” means “that which consoles.” Our loving Lord consoles us in anxious times like a tender parent holding a frightened child. His consolations bring us joy when things go wrong.
2. Proverbs 12:25: Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
The writer of Proverbs knew from personal experience that anxiety feels like a weight. When we’re anxious, it’s like trying to run in a waterlogged wool coat. We trudge from step to step. There is no countermeasure like a kind word—either from a friend or counselor, or from the Lord Himself in His unfailing Word. Instead of reciting your problems to people over and over, give a trusted friend the short version and ask him or her to give you some encouraging insight or some verse of Scripture—and then focus on the kind word you hear.
3. Psalm 55:22: Cast cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.
I learned this verse nearly a half-century ago when a college friend, seeing me anguish over some problem, suggested I memorize it. I did so, and though I’ve utilized it over and over I’ve never worn it out.
4. 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for You.
Here is a verse you should read eleven times. It contains eleven words, and each word is worth emphasizing.
- Cast…. Make a determined decision to toss a heavy weight into someone’s hand.
- Cast all…. The word “all” means there are no exceptions. Nothing is too big for His power or too small for His concern.
- Cast all your… This addresses you personally and it relates to the specific issues troubling you today.
- Cast all your anxiety…. You can give Him everything else too—your praise, your potential, your opportunities, your gifts, your time. But He especially wants your anxieties so He can deal with them.
- Cast all your anxiety on… Not just in His directions. When you pray, place you burden in His outstretched hands or on His impregnable shoulders.
- Cast all your anxiety on Him… Think of Him who stilled the storm, conquered the grave, overcame the enemy, ascended to heaven, occupies the throne, answers our prayers, and is preparing to come again soon.
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because…. There are logical reasons for us to do this. Peter’s command isn’t based on platitudes but on power.
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He… Pause and think of Jesus again, for God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares…. No one ever cares for you like Jesus. He knows every detail of every circumstance and has promised to turn it for good with the redemptive power of His providence (Romans 8:28).
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for…. The sentence doesn’t end with cares. The preposition leads to the final wonderful personal word of the sentence.
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Put your name in the verse, claim it personally, and rest in its infinite assurance.
5. Matthew 6:25-35: Therefore I tell you, do not worry… Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life…? And why do you worry…? So do not worry…. Therefore do not worry….
These words occur in the middle of Christ’s great Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes it helps to imagine being in the crowd on the mountainside and hearing our Lord’s voice saying, over and over, “Do not worry! If I can feed the birds and clothe the flowers, I can certainly take care of you.”
<strong<strongPrayer is the closet where we replace a spirit of despair for a garment of praise. It’s the bank where we present the promissory notes of God’s promises and withdrew endless deposits to grace. It’s the transfer station where the pulse of fear is exchanged for the impulse of faith. This is biblical replacement therapy, and it’s the duty of the child of God to learn how to displace worrisome thoughts with restorative strength through prevailing prayer, and to do it in every situation.</strong</strong
These are some of my go-to passages when I’m worried, and, to me, the last one represents the Bible’s greatest anti-worry passage. In my book, Worry Less, Live More, I write about Philippians 4:6, saying, “Worry makes us feel like we’re being torn in two. What should do that to us? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! The older translations of the Bible say emphatically: ‘In nothing be anxious….’ In a Book of remarkable statements, that one is near the top. Nothing should agitate us because nothing can separate us from the love of a God for whom nothing is impossible. The better we grasp the boundless sovereignty of God, the less we’ll worry about the everyday burdens of life.”
If you are weary and worried today, spend some time with these six truths from God’s Textbook—and add to them. There are literally hundreds of other verses like these, for God has filled His Book with reservoirs of reassurance. Trade your list of worries for a list of biblical promises, and turn to them when anxiety threatens to tear you apart. Quote them to remind yourself of their power. Claim them to restore your soul. Trust them, and you’ll be trusting Him.