Book Reviews

Book Review: A Small Book for the Anxious Heart (Ed Welch)

This is a small book of meditations on fear, worry, and trust. I never thought I was someone who struggled with anxiety. Except, to say that would be a lie (or denial). As a kid I dreaded the first day of school, wondering if I would like the new kids (or more importantly, if they would like me or just want to beat me up). I worried every time I saw dark clouds outside of my elementary school window fearing a storm would be bad enough that my parents couldn’t rescue me. I feared parents leaving me and friends alone when I went to friends’ houses because what if something happened (like, another storm)? I wondered what people thought of me. What if they think I’m lame because I do this. Or if I don’t do this? Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, I guess?

Then for years it lied dormant. Life was fun. College brought more friends, Bible College brought learning about Christ, friends, and new experiences. Marriage brought a best friend and mutual adoration. But then life gets knotty. Marriage + school + a kid + money + a future job in another country. How will it all play out? How does one not get overwhelmed with having to wait for so long to get certain answers that determine one’s future while still having to do so much beforehand? I won’t get into the details here, but there was a lot to do in the last three months of last year, and at times it felt like I was juggling five plates with one hand on a unicycle.

Only a few times did I actually feel anxious, but it was in those few times that God showed me (through my loving wife) that I wasn’t trusting him with our future and finances. She suggested I read this book. There are 50 days of devotionals, each being only a few pages long. Welch has over thirty years of counseling experience, and what Mari has read from him has been incredible.

Welch writes that “our lives are full of uncertainties” (3). We never know what will happen tomorrow. Because of that, stress and fear easily slide (or barge) in. He wrote his book “to help us become more skillful in how we identify our fears and anxieties, hear God’s good words, and grow” (3). Wisdom, “skill in living,” is his goal (3).

He defines fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and stress so that he and the reader are on the same page. Fear is “loud and visceral.” it can be right in front of you. But anxiety is often harder to pin down. And stress comes from having your life circumstances in view at all times. We care about things in this world, and because we can’t control very much, the thought of things not going our way worries us. The problem is that “our worries tend to imagine a future without God in it” (19). One way we show trust in God is through sharing what is on our heart with him. We trust that he will listen, that he cares, and that he won’t mock us for our fears. We trust his covenant faithfulness to us.

Welch ends each day with questions. I usually skip over questions in at the ends of chapters, but good biblical counselors ask good questions, and Welch has been a counselor long enough that he knows how to ask good, simple questions. For example, how can God’s words control and comfort us so that the noise in the pit of our stomach is not our authority? Welch points you to 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” At the end Welch asks, “Does the call of humility give you hope? Why or why not?” (41). This is good to think about. The Bible tells us to humble our selves, and we do that by trusting the Lord by casting all of our cares on to him. How do we really feel about humility? Our words are not authority; God’s words are. Do we really trust God’s words?

On two of the days (20 and 25) Welch encourages you to squelch your anxieties by praying Scripture. This was something I learned about in seminary, and I find it fascinatingly… simple. Read God’s own words back to him. In a way, he’s already given us the script! I don’t like talking, especially when I don’t think I have much to say or the right words in which to express myself. You are encouraged to search for texts of comfort and pray God’s words back to him. Welch gives a few examples with Ephesians 3:18-19, Galatians 5:22, Luke 11:13, and Hebrews 2:9. Read and pray these verses, sections, and even the chapters back to God. Be encouraged over what he has done for you, from what he has saved you, and for what he has saved you.

Recommended?

In a way, this is a short book. Yet when I missed a few days and would try to catch up, it wasn’t quick reading! The chapters are simple, yet there is a lot to think about, especially if you are struggling with anxiety. You won’t get all of your problems solved in one day. Rather wisdom-living is something borne out of hard labor over a long period of time. As Welch notes, a long time is not something an anxious person wants to hear. But God is with you, walking by your side, caring for you. You can trust him.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Edward T. Welch,
    • Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has has been counseling for over thirty years and has written many excellent books on addictions, fear shame, and more.
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Growth Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2019)
  • Read a sample

Find it on Amazon and New Growth Press!

Disclosure: I received this book free from New Growth Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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