only help my unbelief


Why we can’t talk ourselves out of fear
June 18, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: Posts

One day I hope to compile into a post or a series of posts my battle with fear and anxiety over the past couple of years. But now is not the time nor the place, so instead, I want to share some excerpts from Ed Welch’s book Running Scared. I bought this book when it first came out and read through most of it, but now I’m starting at the beginning and reading through it again.

There are… treatments for fears and anxieties. Medication dulls the physical symptoms; psychological treatments address the thoughts. If you are afraid to fly because you keep thinking the plan will crash, you can replace that thought with another: I’ve flown many times before and nothing has happened; it’s the safest way to travel. This might help, but it rests on the premise that fear submits to logic, which is a dubious assumption. In reality, fears are rarely logical. Or, as fearful people might protest, they are very logical.

These versions of fool-your-body-into-thinking-everything-is-okay can help some people cross bridges or even fly; but, when examined closely, they seem superficial and thus rather hopeless. They reduce fear to a series of physiological responses. Meanwhile, we suspect that there is a deeper reality to our fears and worries. Listen to your fears and you hear them speak about things that have personal meaning to you. They appear to be attached to the things we value.

I hope to share more of this book as I continue to read. These passages are from the first chapter and do well to set up the book. After this introduction, this book is saturated with Scripture, which is one of the reasons I wanted to get it. We can’t have hope from fear without Scripture.

But also, Ed Welch knows how to address fear from Scripture because he understands the nature of fear. There were times when Christian was in Germany and I couldn’t get in touch with him that I would be terrified. But it didn’t matter how many times I told myself that he had probably just gotten held up, or was out with friends, or had changed his plans at the last minute. None of those things, though entirely plausible, held any weight in the face of my overwhelming fears.

And that’s what Welch is setting up in the parts I quoted. Later in the book, he talks about the words of comfort God offers us in Scripture. I’m looking forward to reading the book again, because even though God has delivered me from a lot of anxiety, I’m not all the way healed, and I always need reminders of God’s provision and care for fearful people like me.

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