Monday, August 1, 2016

Book Review: Stressed Out

Stressed Out. Todd Friel. 2016. New Leaf Press. 205 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

First sentence: If you go to a medical doctor with a sprained toe and tell him your elbow hurts, you will get a prescription, some exercises, and a nifty elbow brace, but your toe will not get the help it needs. The same thing is true for your emotions.

Premise/plot: When is anxiety a sin? And when is anxiety not a sin? Todd Friel addresses both kinds of anxiety in his newest book. First, he addresses two kinds of anxiety that are not a sin. Organic anxiety is something malfunctioning in your body that is causing your emotions to be out of sorts. He insists there is no shame in organic anxiety, and, believers should not feel guilty for something they cannot help. It is not a sin to grieve, to mourn, to cry, to be sad, to be disappointed. There is a time and place for these darker emotions. And dark emotions are not necessarily sinful.

From chapter four on, Todd Friel only addresses the anxiety that is a sin. He first stresses that it is indeed a sin. He then proceeds to say that the fact that it is a sin is great news for us. Because the Bible tells us exactly what to do with sin, and, in fact does more than that. Believers joined in Christ and filled with the Spirit have the POWER to overcome sin. The cure for anxiety is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not to be misunderstood, the cure for anxiety is a person--Jesus Christ Himself.

Chapters five through sixteen focus on twelve anxiety relievers taken straight from Scripture.

Chapters seventeen and eighteen focus on the application. How can you apply Scripture to your life? How can you take this great news and make it yours?

My thoughts: While I am glad that Todd Friel acknowledges organic anxiety, I wish he was even more informed. I wished he would go where few go in Christian circles--THE GUT. I think there is still widespread ignorance of how influential the GUT is in terms of how our brains work and our emotions. The GUT definitely plays a HUGE role in what we think and how we feel. If your gut is anything less than healthy, there's a good chance that your brain is less than healthy as well. My advice to Christians and non-Christians is the same: BECOME AS INFORMED AS YOU CAN BE in terms of your guts. The more you know about how your body actually works, the better. You need to know about serotonin. You need to know about leaky gut. If leaky gut is your problem, the changes you make in your life may do a great deal to relieve your anxiety and other health issues. Health issues that you may think of as being completely unrelated to one another. It doesn't help that doctors can be just as uninformed or misinformed as you and me. It may take some research for you to find the answers you need. (In our lives we're so tempted to treat the symptoms as if the symptoms are the main thing, the main issue--to ignore the fact that the symptoms are an indicator of a root problem. Why keep treating the symptoms and perhaps add more symptoms through side effects when what you need is to find the root cause?!)

But I am glad that he doesn't necessarily link disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder to spiritual failure.

Here is one of my favorite quotes: "You are not your brain. Your brain is not what makes you, you. You are a spiritual being with a body." (14)

And here is another good one: "Your anxiety should scream at you, 'You need help with your thinking.' God's response to your cries is, 'I am ready, willing, and able to fix you.' (22)

Most of the book, however, does approach anxiety with the 'it-is-a-sin' approach. Todd Friel writes, "If we do not submit to the Word and agree with God that our anxiety is a sin, then we will not be helped. God resists the proud, but He offers grace to the humble (James 4:7)." (27)

Essentially, the cure involves getting to know God. It isn't just focus more on God and less on yourself, though that is tempting to equate. Is the God you believe in and trust in the God revealed in the Bible? God cannot be known apart from the Bible. And if you don't know the God of the Bible, if you do not know how he has revealed himself, or, who he has revealed himself to be, then you don't know God. If your God is a God of your imagination of your own creation, then your faith may be misplaced faith. And it is only faith in the true God, the God that is I AM, that can save you from yourself, save you from your anxiety. How can you trust a God you don't know?

Know your Bible. Not just in order to accumulate facts. But read your Bible to KNOW A PERSON. See the Bible for what it is--the Word of God, the LIVING word of God. With the very Spirit of God as your teacher, counselor, guide--the path and the light for the path--you can be confident that whatever happens, God is FOR you and not against you.

I love that Friel does address the sovereignty of God and also our sanctification. Neither subject is particularly popular these days. But both are essential for understanding the Christian life.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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