Across all walks of life — young, old, rich, poor — we all experience worry at times. While fear can be a helpful and beneficial emotion — it’s what motivates us to run from a dangerous situation or take cover from a damaging storm — worry is often less productive, and hinders our faith in God’s sovereignty. The Bible speaks to our human anxiety in many places throughout both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, God often tells us not to worry or fear, but rather rest in his control over the situation, goodness, and love for us. Here are five passages that speak to the fear we face and the sovereignty of God in the midst of it.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This passage of Scripture first tells us to rejoice — something that naturally counteracts fear. Rejoice in what the Lord has done for you and express gratitude for his provision thus far. It’s hard to be worried when you’re looking at all of the ways God has walked with you through hard times in the past. The passage also gives us a reason to not be anxious: the Lord is at hand. He is near. He encourages us to come to him with our worries and requests. Then embrace the peace of God, which he promises will surpass all our human understanding and provide shelter for our hearts and minds.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
This psalm takes a particularly deep look at God’s power and goodness in light of the storms of our lives on Earth. It invites us to take refuge in Him and not fear “though the earth gives way.” No matter how bad things seem, we can be comforted knowing and believing He is in control, He is with us, and He is trustworthy.
1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him because he cares for you.
This excerpt from 1 Peter first asks us to humble ourselves — which would include the understanding that we are ultimately not in control — but then heap all our anxieties — every last one — on Him. Why? Because he cares for you. You as an individual. This poignant set of verses gets to the heart of why God calls us not to worry — because he cares for us.
Luke 12:4-6, 22-32
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?2 And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, 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. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12 contains several meaningful passages about anxiety and worry. Here, God reminds us how precious we are to Him and how he cares for us — not only our spiritual needs but our physical ones. Even so, our spiritual lives are far more important than our physical ones. Seek first what is most important to God, and He will supply the rest. We are his most prized creations, his little flock of sheep, and the Shepherd will always take care of his flock.
1But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
God reminds Israel in this passage how much he cares for them, and we can understand this as how he cares for us, too. He has called us by name; we are His. Is there any better title to have than simply “His?” Will, not the God who created the stars take care of the ones he made in His image — the only creation he deems “very good” in Genesis? The Psalmist reminds the reader that when we walk through trials, God is close by and we will not be destroyed. We can rest in the powerful God of Israel to walk with us and protect us.