The Benefits of Anxiety

No one wants stress, anxiety, and fear. The exceptions might include daredevils and those who enjoy being frightened. For them, daily life might be mingled with boredom and traces of emptiness. The jolt makes them feel alive. The rest of us would be fine without the jolts and background jitters. But your anxiety has its advantages.

Anxiety speaks important truth.

Anxiety sees the fragility of life. There is nothing—full silos, a hefty income, healthy children—that can protect us from tomorrow’s troubles. This is obvious to all, but humans have a long history of denial. Anxiety and fear can break through that denial.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13–15

Anxiety won’t relent.

Augustine wrote, “until it finds its rest in Thee.” Anxiety needs its better half in Jesus. We can be slow to get the message and spread our trust as wide as possible. But anxiety will not be quieter until it is home. We need the One who is solid and endures. And we need the One who is close and compassionate.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been.

Ecclesiastes 3:14–15
[Y]ou have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

James 5:11

Apart from Jesus, anxiety stands alone, without refuge, which it was never intended to do.

Those who know fear and anxiety, and couple it with faith in Jesus, care well for others.

Your anxieties suggest that you are affected by the world around you. Without Jesus, you can turn inward and your world becomes small. But with Jesus, you look out and can see the trouble of a friend or neighbor. You have compassion. You can be moved by their trouble. This compassion brings you even more into the heart of God because it gives you glimpses into his compassion. To the needy he says, “if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:27).

Excerpted from A Small Book for the Anxious Heart by Ed Welch. © 2019 by New Growth Press. May not be reposted without permission.

A Small Book for the Anxious Heart (Book Cover)

A SMALL BOOK FOR THE ANXIOUS HEART: Meditations on Fear, Worry, and Trust

Fear and anxiety are chronic struggles for many people that are only intensifying and increasing. Best-selling author Edward T. Welch shares the comfort and peace of Jesus in fifty brief readings for those who wrestle with fear.

About the author

Edward T. Welch

Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at CCEF. He earned a PhD in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. He has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions.

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