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What does the Bible say about angst?

Bible angst
Question: "What does the Bible say about angst?"

Angst is a deep feeling of anxiety, dread, insecurity, or apprehension. Angst comes from an Indo-European root word that means “anguish, anxiety, or anger.” Sigmund Freud first introduced the word angst to the English language as a term referring to generalized anxiety. Angst differs slightly from true anxiety in that, while anxiety is active, angst is passive. Anxiety is fear about a certain event, but angst is a sense of underlying dissatisfaction without specific cause. People who are filled with angst are morose, dissatisfied, and unhappy for no particular reason.

Some seasons of life produce apprehension that, if not dealt with properly, can create angst. Geographical moves, an upcoming job change, or the teenage years are often seasons in which we can develop angst. The decisions of national leaders can stir unrest in the citizenry during war times or economic crises. Rather than allow those events to create angst, the Bible invites us to cast all our care upon the Lord, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We are not scolded for our fear but urged to choose a better option than angst. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The book of Psalms gives us many examples of situations that could produce angst, but the psalmists continued writing until they found a solution. Psalm 42, for example, expresses the fear, apprehension, and anxiety we often feel, but it intersperses those heartfelt cries with hope, such as in verse 5: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

For citizens of heaven, life in this broken world can be overwhelming. We don’t fit in here. We don’t like or agree with much of what the world celebrates, and that feeling that we are “not home yet” can create angst. When we allow ourselves to be emotionally embroiled in ongoing conflict and fruitless debate, we can develop angst without realizing what it is (Titus 3:9; 2 Timothy 2:14). Christians who struggle with feelings of angst should ask God to develop the fruit of the Spirit, joy, in their lives (Galatians 5:22); find their satisfaction in Christ (Psalm 103:1–5); and choose the path of blessedness (Matthew 5:3–12). We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:27). Jesus promised to give us His peace, saying, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Recommended Resource: Runaway Emotions: Why You Feel the Way You Do and What God Wants You to Do About It by Jeff Schreve

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