Anxiety

The word “anxiety” does not appear in the KJV, and is found only seven times in the RSV, although the words derived from it, “anxious” and “anxiously,” appear twenty-seven times. The related terms, “Care,” “careful,” and “carefulness,” occur quite frequently. The most frequently occurring Hebrew words which convey the idea of anxiety are דְּאָגָה, H1796, dread, anxiety; דָּאַג, H1793, to be anxious about. The most commonly-used Gr. words conveying the same idea are μεριμνάω, G3534, to be anxious; and μέριμνα, G3533, care, anxiety.

In both Testaments it is made unambiguously clear that the child of God has a heavenly Father who loves and cares for His own. God will allow nothing to befall His followers except what is for their good; they need not be anxious or fearful about circumstances, whether present or future. The man who trusts God is compared to a Tree which does not fear heat and is not anxious in the year of Drought, whose Leaves always remain green, and does not cease to bear fruit (Jer 17:8). Psalms 23 and 91 are classic examples of the freedom from anxiety of the godly Israelite who puts his trust and confidence in Jehovah.

In JesusSermon on the Mount He said that His disciples were not to be anxious about Food and Raiment, because God, who looks after the birds of the air and the grass of the field, will certainly look after His children; He also said that they are not to be anxious about the morrow (Matt 6:25-34). He rebuked Martha for allowing herself to be anxious and troubled about many things (Luke 10:41). Paul admonished Christians, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6); and Peter urged them, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Pet 5:7). In 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, where Paul balanced the advantages and disadvantages of the married and the unmarried states, he said that the unmarried do not have to worry about pleasing a spouse, but can give their undivided attention to the things of the Lord.

Bibliography

  • G. Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, IV (1967), 589-593;
  • E. F. Harrison, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (1960), 110, 111.