What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?  All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NIV
When I was 5 or 6 years old, I remember a time I was angry at my older sister who was much taller than me.
She would put her hand on my head and hold me at arms length, while I futilely took swings at her with my arms flailing wildly in the air. I would get so anxious and frustrated because no matter how much I tried, I could never reach her and was therefore out of control.
I have known for a long time that I have a challenge with anger, irritation, and frustration. What I have not connected is that at the root of much of this angst is anxiety.
The book of Ecclesiastes reiterates over and over again that anxious striving will only end in frustration and futility because it is God’s hand that gives us what we need to live and enjoy life. The point and goal of life has to be pleasing God and being close to him.
 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,  for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 NIV
Anxiety in its different forms
 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.  Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud— frustrated, discouraged, and angry.Ecclesiastes 5:16-17 NLT
Anxiety can take many different forms. As Solomon writes, our anxious striving for accomplishment and financial gain makes us live under a cloud of frustration, discouragement, and anger. How does anxiety manifest itself in your life?
Anxiety can present in a classic way, of course: worry, tension, fretting. But it also comes in a rainbow of other flavors. Anxiety is a slippery shape-shifter—when you try to stuff it down, it just re-emerges in a different form.Ellen Hendricksen
My anxiety, more often than not, takes the form of frustration and anger. When I explode in anger over something seemingly insignificant, it may not be that I am just a mean, angry person, but that I have an anxiety problem.
Men and anxiety
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.Psalm 37:8 NIV
This scripture makes a connection between fretting and getting angry. Both men and women can respond in this way, but let me focus for a moment on men. Because men often hide their anxiety and fear, it manifests as frustration.
In 1 Timothy 2:8, God makes sure to point out that this is a problem specifically for men. He stresses that men freeing themselves from frustration is important for our prayers and worship of God.
Therefore, I encourage the men to pray on every occasion with hands lifted to God in worship with clean hearts, free from frustration or strife.1 Timothy 2:8 TPT
Jed Diamond describes what he calls Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) as a state of hypersensitivity anxiety, frustration, and anger.
IMS men live in constant worry and fear. There are many real threats that they deal with in their lives: job insecurities, sexual changes, relationship problems. There are also many uncertainties that lead men to ruminate and fantasize about future problems.
These kinds of worries usually take the form of what-ifs: What if I lose my job? What if I can’t find a job? What if she leaves me? What if my parents die? What if something happens to my wife or children? What if I get sick and can’t take care of things?Jed Diamond
The solution to anxiety is not to try to take control in life, but rather to recognize our need for God and to change our view of God.
 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
There are two key things to learn from this scripture. The first is that anxieties need to be “cast” away from us and onto God.
It takes effort and energy because anxiety clings to us, and we often fixate on it. Secondly, we have to really believe God cares for us. He knows and cares about everything that goes on in our lives and is always working to make us our best.
 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.  Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.  Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.Psalm 37:3-7 NRSV
In these few short verses of Psalm 37, God gives us a spiritual prescription to overcome anxiety and the frustration that accompanies it. Each one of these can be developed into a great topical Bible study.
So, if you, like me, are discovering that your frustration and anger is rooted in anxiety, or your answer to the question and title of this article, “Feeling Anxious?” is “yes”, then take time to discover God’s prescription to anxiety and the spiritual answers that can help us overcome it. These scriptures on frustration will help you identify where God can help you remain at peace in any circumstance.
This devotional is part of a collection of studies about turning to God with our anxiety and worry. View the entire selection for a deeper dive.