The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?
By Rhett Smith
Reading this book was no coincidence. I read it intentionally. I am a Christian. And I get anxious.
Overall, I thought Rhett Smith’s little book was worth the read. It was fast, not weighed down with jargon and technicalities. However, at the same time, it didn’t have a lot of meat to it. Maybe it’s my American quick-fix psychosis talking, but when I read a book on anxiety, I expect to come away with some techniques, some tools for dealing with anxiety. I didn’t really get that with this book.
One of the main premises of Smith’s book is that sometimes, instead of fighting anxiety, God wants us to lean into our anxiety. He says that sometimes God is trying to tell us something or push us to a new place in our lives through the anxiety and only by embracing and exploring our anxious thoughts can we discover where God is at work.
Smith has some good insights. I did have a few ah-ha moments while reading. He quotes from the book of Exodus, found in the Bible (and for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bible or the way the Christian sub-culture operates, Exodus is a little-quoted book). He quotes Exodus 17:1 (NRSV), which says, “From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded.” He then goes on to reflect on that passage: “Exodus 17:1 continually reminds me that we are people in the wilderness. There is just no way around it. The reality of life is that we are constantly moving from one big transition to another. At moments we may experience a respite from the journey, but that doesn’t alter the fact that life is rooted in the wilderness experience of continuous transition and choice.”
Yep, we are a people in a series of uncertain transitions, when really, what we long for is security. No wonder that makes some of us anxious. Who would have thought insights like that could be found in Exodus?
I found it refreshing to see anxiety dealt with from a Christian perspective in a positive way. The author avoided falling into the “Just trust God” trap that’s so frustrating for a Christian who honestly desires to trust God but who is also dealing with an anxiety disorder.
I was mildly pleased with this book. Not enough to want to own it and underline in it, but enough to be glad I read it. Rhett Smith’s experience and personal insights touch deeply at times, and I know that many young people dealing with anxiety will be able to easily identify with Smith’s thoughts and encouraging words.