Thursday, November 21, 2019

Book Review: A Small Book for the Anxious Heart

A Small Book for the Anxious Heart: Meditations on Fear, Worry, and Trust. Edward T. Welch. 2019. New Growth Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the introduction: Anxieties remain among my top bugaboos. My own grappling with them is different than it was even a year ago, but I see so much more that is available, so much room for growth. In this book I will raise some themes from books on fear that I have previously written, but I will also introduce new themes and, I hope, add the benefit of additional experience.

First "sentence" from day one: Could there be a more important topic? Our lives are full of uncertainties. We never know what the day will bring. Worries, fears, and stress are part of daily life. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Scripture says so much about it, and that what it says is both attractive and helpful. The Lord responds to our fears with words of comfort, which he is pleased to repeat again and again. His words to us cluster around two themes: your God is very near, and he gives the grace and power you need for today. The aim of this book is to help us become more skillful in how we identify our fears and anxieties, hear God’s good words, and grow. You could say that our goal is wisdom. Wisdom is another name for skill in living.

Is it a devotional? Is it a Bible study? It's a happy-happy blend of both. It's a book of daily readings--fifty days--that challenge readers to grow in their faith. The devotions are substantive--packed with information both practical and biblical.

There were some readings that I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. I thought they were timely, relevant, and just what I needed. Other readings I "merely" loved, loved, loved. Overall, I would say I was an enthusiastic reader and definitely part of Welch's target audience.
I would say the book has the potential--with the Spirit--to offer hope and change to readers.

I loved that each daily reading ended with a question or two--or an activity. Sometimes he's asking readers to write what they're thinking and feeling. Sometimes he's asking readers to "be brave" and reach out to someone--anyone--to talk to about their feelings and experiences. He's a big advocate that there's nothing to be ashamed about. Talking about what you're feeling with someone else can be life-changing. He is also a BIG advocate of PRAYER.

I disobeyed Welch in that I did NOT read just one a day. I was wearing my BOOK REVIEWER HAT. Yes, I'm part of his target audience--someone who has wrestled with anxiety and fear--but I'm also a book blogger who wanted to finish the book so I could review it and recommend it to others. I didn't want to wait FIFTY whole days before I started spreading the word: BUY THIS BOOK. Or THIS WOULD MAKE A LOVELY CHRISTMAS GIFT.

God never intended us to bear the overwhelming burdens of life by ourselves. Instead, he gives himself—just the right person to bear them with us. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything. (Philippians 4:5–6) Whenever God speaks to you about your fears, you can be sure he will say something about being close. He even patiently persuades you that he is close. He piles up the evidence. Still, you can be blind to that evidence when fears are close and anxieties ring loud. The process of letting anxieties go takes practice that engages with God himself—which means you will engage with Jesus.
Our goal is to persist in listening to God’s words until we really hear them and they speak God’s comfort and healing to our souls. Often it can seem like Scripture is too hard to understand and too far removed from our daily life. But it is a treasure that yields more and more as you go further in. Anything of value comes through perseverance. So listen, and keep listening. You will find well over three hundred places in the Bible where God speaks directly to your fears, and, with practice, you will hear his words to you on every page.
Response 1. Psalm 23 makes no requests. It is a declaration of truth to your soul and a confession to the Lord. Like all psalms, it is also a prayer that you can modify to the contours of your own soul. Rewrite it for yourself. Or simply speak it to the Lord in your words. 2. “You are with me” is the center of the psalm. What else do you hear that gives you hope? 3. Are there any other songs that would be good to sing?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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