5 Scriptures to Read When You’re Feeling Anxious
Hectic. Overwhelming. Noisy. So often that’s how our lives feel, with our “to do” lists and our busy schedules and our work commitments. It can cause us to feel anxious and not at peace.
And, yet, God promises us just that. Peace. And rest. And his presence. Here are five scriptures that can remind us of those good truths when we’re in the midst of chaos:
1. Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Countless times I’ve sat down to try to be still and holy. It’s never worked very well. Only recently when I was studying this passage did I realize my misunderstanding of the text: the original Hebrew root of Be still doesn’t mean “be quiet”; it means “let go.” That’s very different, don’t you think? Let go and know that I am God!
Let go of trying to control your spouse!
Let go of your worry about your finances!
Let go of your unforgiveness!
Let go of your past!
Let go of what you can’t control — and rest in the knowledge that God is in control!
We worry so much about things that we can’t impact. What if we decided to make a list of things we are holding onto and release all of them to God? What if we took one moment each day to be still and acknowledge God’s perfect control? Give it a try.
2. Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
We don’t live in a culture conducive to rest. Even in the church we can end up being overcommitted because we say yes too often. After all, it’s easier to say no to attending a neighborhood party than to signing up for a Bible study. If something sounds spiritual, we too easily think we should line up behind everyone else and take a ticket. But being busy for God and knowing God are two different things. And often they don’t fit together well.
One day when Jesus addressed a crowd, He spoke right to their bone-deep weariness. He wasn’t speaking about the kind of tiredness you and I feel at the end of a good day’s work. No, Jesus was speaking to those who were worn out trying to do the right thing to please God and earn their salvation.
Remember, this was before the Crucifixion and the resurrection, so if you were a God-fearing Jew listening to Jesus that day, you still woke up every morning under the burden of 613 laws. We know the Big 10, the commandments God gave Moses on Mount Sinai, but there were 603 more for the Jewish people to follow.
And yet, Jesus loves you. That’s the whole sentence. There’s no if tacked on at the end. It stands alone. Jesus loves you and me just as we are right now. Despite the countless shades of light and dark that live inside us, we are loved completely by God.
That kind of love doesn’t exist apart from God.
That kind of love is hard to grasp when we’re busy running from one activity to another.
That kind of love calls us to rest — really rest — in the presence of the One who made us, who knows us, who loves us.
3. John 16:33
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Stop for a moment and listen to the noise inside. What is keeping your heart from being quiet and at peace? Most likely, it’s many things, because although we long for peace, real life intrudes.
A call from the doctor
A note from the teacher about a child’s behavior
A lost job and a pile of bills
In the last major conversation Jesus had with His closes friends, He spoke about peace — but not as we might have expected Him to. When I read Jesus saying, “I’ve told you all this so that you may have peace,” my first question is All what? If I didn’t look back to John 15 to see what Jesus had been saying, I’d guess that key to peace would be something along these lines:
“You’re going to live to a ripe old age.”
“Your children will rise up and call you blessed — even when they hit 15.”
“You will always have enough money for all you need and most of what you want.”
But not one of these things was included in the strangest “peace speech” I’ve ever read. Turn to John 15 and you’ll see that Jesus told His closest friends that they would be persecuted and no longer welcome in places they used to go.
Clearly the peace Jesus spoke about is not what we think of at all. He was saying to His disciples — and to you and me today — “It’s going to get rough down here, but don’t worry. I am with you. I will never leave you. And I am your peace.”
4. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
King Solomon, who wrote most of the book of Proverbs, was known for one thing above all others: “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).
In light of Solomons “very great wisdom,” I find comfort in his statement that when we trust God rather than simply relying on what makes sense to us and when we honestly want to do God’s will, He will indeed show us the path to take.
Life for the believer is not a tightrope walk off a threatening precipice and across a deep canyon. Instead, we can journey confidently and step-by-step with our loving Father as a guide. After all, your good Shepherd longs to make His will known to you.
5. 1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Imagine that it’s Sunday morning and you’re headed to church. You’d very nearly bailed. You’ve just been feeling so tired and discouraged lately. As you navigate the parking lot, you watch families heading into the sanctuary, apparently carefree. You pick up your Bible and your purse, put on your best Sunday smile, and follow them.
Suddenly you feel this weight pulling on you. You look down and all the baggage from your life — the stuff you’ve been carrying inside for years — has become visible. It’s not easy to look at.
Panicking and not sure what to do, you look around and see that everyone else has baggage too. Then an older man stands up, drags his bag to the front, and leaves it there. A young couple does the same thing. More and more people begin to drag their baggage to the feet of Jesus and leave it there.
Will you go too?
Will you take Christ up on this amazing exchange?
You don’t have to carry your baggage for one more minute.
By Sheila Walsh