Helen Thorne, an experienced counsellor and Director of Training and Resources at Biblical Counselling UK, has written a short book on anxiety. No thanks to the COVID pandemic of 2020 (and 2021, and 2022, and…), there was a massive rise in anxiety. As people lived life in isolation from others, they were lonely. There were forces they couldn’t resist, as well as the normal difficulties in life, but they had to face them without the closeness of many friends and family. There were constraints on how and where you could work or go to school, and worries about either you or loved ones getting infected and the social, financial, and personal results of that. Helen designed her book “to have words of encouragement for everyone who struggles with anxiety (and that’s most of us to a greater or lesser extent)” and to both show “real hope and take the first few steps in a lifetime of change” (9).
Part One: An Anxious World consists of four chapters revolving around the theme of living. Chapter one shows that in a world where everyone me wants to “live the dream,” many suffer from some level of anxiety, often daily. It’s to the point that you want to escape. Ditch the anxiety like a bad prom date. But there is an answer. A slow walk uphill.
In chapter two Helen points to the good end that is coming (Rev 22–22) and the good beginning that was (Gen 1–2), and explains that we are smack dab in the middle of those two “goods.” Because of Adam and Eve’s failure, we’re all broken. Broken bodies that don’t function well and can cause us to fear what comes next, as well as what is happening now. Some worries nag us due to an illness of some sort. Others can be brought on through changes in hormones, tendencies in our neurochemistry, or through our genetic predispositions. We can have good desires that can get out of control. If we don’t have this thing we need then life isn’t worth living. Or we enjoy something so much it puts us into debt. Perhaps we face too much disappointment.
Chapter three looks at coping strategies you can use as you live day by day. These are helpful strategies put forth by “medics, psychologists, counsellors, and self-help gurus” (27). These are strategies such as breathing techniques, grounding (reminding yourself of the present, physical reality), exercise, rest (sleep!), healthy eating, proper weekly scheduling to get things done without overloading yourself, or even seeing a doctor or skilled therapist. But, as Helen notes, none of these things will change your heart.
In chapter four Helen points you to what brings deeper levels of change. God is deeply involved in our lives and in this world, and he wants us to know himself. As “we follow him and gradually replace those false beliefs with the deeply relational truths of the Bible, we can see our struggles with anxiety beginning to change” (41).
This leads to Part Two: Hope in the Face of Anxiety’s Lies, which consists of six chapters on six different lies anxious people can believe: loneliness, disorder, no place to turn, give up, it’s your fault, there’s no hope for you.
Throughout each of these chapters, Helen shows you the lie and points you to the gospel answer. God gives himself to us each morning. We can talk to him each morning over what we think we need while being willing to accept what he knows we need. We don’t serve “an overlord looking to control us like robots but a wise Shepherd willing to walk ahead of us, providing everything we need to live life his way” (67).
Helen ends with a postscript. She doesn’t promise a complete end of your anxiety (though she readily admits it’s possible!), but God and his people are around you to love, encourage, nourish, and enable you to press on and persevere (98). We serve a God who offers an alternative answer to the lies we believe. He cares for us, and we can give him our burdens.
Helen Thorne has written a simple and gentle guide to those with stressed hearts and worried minds. If you struggle with anxiety, I would encourage you to pick up this short book. It wouldn’t take long to finish, so read slowly and pay close attention to the ways your Good Shepherd gives himself to you as he leads you today in the midst of your worry.
- Author: Helen Thorne
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: The Good Book Company (June 1, 2021)
- Read a sample
Find it on Amazon and The Good Book Company!
Disclosure: I received this book free from The Good Book Company. 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.