While studying accounting in college, I took a required economics course. One of the factors the instructor taught us about that affects economic decisions is a term described by the acronym FUD. It stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. In a stable world, the economics of a free market are easier to predict based on established supply and demand models. However, when people experience FUD in their lives, they may behave in unpredictable ways. Sometimes it is introduced in a business setting such as a salesperson falsely telling you about a competitor’s product which in turn gives you a sense of fear doing business with that other company. Sometimes it is introduced by governments to get people to behave in certain ways. We can clearly see this at play right now during the era of the Covid-19 virus. Millions of people live in fear of this disease and it’s affecting their way of life and spending habits in unusual ways. It remains to be seen if humility among the populations of the world will change and if that will lead to a state of repentance and conversion to the principles of the gospel so that the Lord may heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14).
One of the great challenges of living in the last days is the amount of fear and anxiety produced in people from the events happening around us. The earth itself is in a state of upheaval. Between pestilence, famine, earthquakes, economic disasters, and secret combinations, it can generate some anxious feelings for sure. Yet the Savior taught:
1. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
27. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
How do we receive the Lord’s peace in a world filled with FUD? Paul wrote to the Philippians:
6. Be careful [anxious as in full of cares] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
In other words, the solution to being full of cares is to offer prayers to God and let him know all your concerns, and then express gratitude to him, knowing HE cares and is helping you meet your needs. Lay your burdens at his feet and thank him for every little thing he helps you with. Start to notice them throughout your day. Through that prayerful gratitude, you express faith that you know he’s there, and by expressing faith, he blesses you and opens doors to you not only in this world, but also into His world where his peace can come upon you and change your heart by erasing your fear, uncertainty, and doubt. When FUD disappears, so does anxiety. We make better decisions and we find joy in living.
Anxiety is a natural state. We were born into this world with separation anxiety. Normally this is a term used to describe a child being separated from its mother and the natural fear and worry that induces in their mind and heart. For mortals, it’s the separation we experience from leaving our heavenly pre-mortal world and being separated from the presence of our Heavenly Parents (Job 38:4–7; Jer. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:3-4; ). We are spirit children of God (Eccl. 12:7; Acts 17:28; Heb. 12:9) and there is a natural anxiety in the soul that is placed there by design to get us to seek God out. It’s a state of unrest. We want to rest in our parent’s arms again and know everything will be OK.
In mortality, some seek to cut the apron strings and sever those feelings. They harden their hearts instead of turning to God in prayer to experience the joyful reunion of light from above entering the soul and bringing that peace that surpasses understanding that Paul wrote about.
What brought me to this topic was seeing the word anxiety in this next verse and wondering how it applied to me as a principle of the gospel. It’s a verse out of the Book of Mormon where the prophet Jacob says:
5. For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them.
6. And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.
Usually we wouldn’t associate faith and anxiety as complimentary attributes. Anxiety is more closely associated with doubt, but verse 5 seems to identify anxiety as a positive trait that led to revelation. Why is that? Can anxiety be a positive thing?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines anxiety as “concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness.”
That doesn’t sound very peaceful…
I decided to search for anxiety in the scriptures and see where else it was used. I did a search for:
This only yielded 12 results and I was surprised to see there were no results in the Bible for that word.
Obviously the Bible speaks about anxiety but it uses different words such as the two examples at the beginning of this post.
So I started with these verses to see what they said.
In Scripture Notes, I created a collection note from the search results. I titled it “The Anxiety of Prophets & People” and gave it a tag of “Anxiety.”
There are three groups of people referenced in these verses. There are prophets who are anxious, and there are bodies of people, and then the Lord tells us what to be anxious about. This is what I put in my master collection note for these verses.
What prophets are anxious about:
- People keeping the commandments (2 Nephi 1:16)
- The welfare of our souls (2 Nephi 6:3; Jacob 2:3)
- To help their people not reject Christ (Jacob 4:15-18)
- People would cast off our sins and not procrastinate repentance (Alma 13:27)
What people are anxious about:
- To know concerning the destruction of ancient people (Mosiah 28:12)
- Individual liberty and personal responsibility to ensure no wicked kings would bring destruction on the people (Mosiah 29:38)
- The wicked: anxious to destroy the righteous (3 Nephi 3:3)
- Expectation of knowledge from God through the gift of the Holy Ghost (D&C 121:26-27)
- Which church to join (JSH 1:14)
The Lord commands us to be anxiously engaged (D&C 58:27):
- in a good cause
- do many things of our own free will
- bring to pass much righteousness
All individuals who receive a calling in life are responsible for the people they minister to. Jacob wrote:
19. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.
I think that would give anyone some level of anxiety over the people they are responsible for.
Lots of things create anxiety for individuals. Health concerns, lack of understanding, relationship issues, underdeveloped patience, etc… The list is long. In the few examples above, the people were concerned for knowledge, their liberty, safety, and direction. We feel these same things today. How do we overcome them? Not only did the Lord tell us not to be troubled, but he told us the proper use of anxiety…
The Lord knows we are anxious about many things. We are in a state of unease and want to enter into his rest. He knows that if we use our agency to do good, and advance righteousness, we will receive revelation about how to act, do much good, and receive the peace that surpasses understanding and puts our mind’s at ease (relief from the world’s anxiety). Helping other people with their problems helps us get outside our own concerns, and live as Christ did in reaching out to help others.
Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith, 3rd lecture:
2. Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
3. First, the idea that he actually exists.
4. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
5. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Does anxiety have a purpose? Yes. It introduces to the human mind a condition that makes us want to take some type of action. Those actions might be positive or negative.
Are we using our energy to serve others, lift their spirits, and act like Christ? Are we seeking revelation to obtain knowledge about what the Lord wants us to do? These are good applications of our anxiety and will help us feel peace in a world of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
If we are sinking into despair or turning to worldly solutions for our anxiety (not talking about clinical over anxiety that may require medication), such as mindless entertainment, hard drugs, and all things Babylon, we may take temporary refuge from our anxiety getting lost in momentary pleasure, but it will not last. It cannot be satisfied in this manner.
Anxiety is a call from home, seeking to get us to feel the gentle urgings of the spirit to work toward restoring the heavenly connection we have been cut off from as a result of the fall of Adam & Eve, and our spiritual death separation from God. It can only be restored through spiritual means and when it comes, it is the only restoration of peace that satisfies.
If you want to continue your study, you can do a web search for “Anxiety verses in the Bible” or “Bible verses on anxiety” and you will find other lists of relevant verses which you could add to your collection note if desired.
(Featured image by Jovan Mandic @ 123rf.com)