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A Review of “When I am Afraid” by Edward T. Welch

Posted On May 24, 2016

Change is never as simple as “step-by-step” guides suggest. Change is hard work which involves assistance and consistency over time. Yet, we must all make steps towards progress. Ed Welch recognizes both of these realities as he writes his “step-by-step guide away from fear and anxiety.” When I am Afraid is a wonderful resource for guiding people through fear to the God of peace. Written as a workbook it is designed to engage the reader at a personal level, making change more than just theoretical.

The books seven chapters are written as meditations “on what God says to fearful and anxious people” (2). Designed as a seven-week study Welch highlights what our fears say and what God says back to them. The questions within each chapter are intended to engage the reader at the personal level, inviting us to do some self-evaluation and to think about our fears, not simply to react to them. Welch states one his goals for the book is to help readers “hone [their] spiritual instincts so that [they] turn to Jesus when [they] are anxious, rather than trusting in [their] ability to solve or deny problems” (2-3). To that end, Welch is constantly pointing us to the God of Scripture who speaks powerful words of comfort and reassurance to His fearful children.

The book’s seven chapters, designed to be studies and applied across a week at a time, cover the basic concept of fear, three common fears, and hope in God. Readers who work through this book will learn how to listen to their fears and see how their fears highlight what they treasure. They will be challenged to repent of any sin and turn again to the God of comfort. They will also learn specifically what Jesus says about financial fear, the fear of death and pain, and the fear of man. In each case, we will find truths to challenge our fears and confront them with hope. Finally, readers will be directed towards the character of God and the assurance of His presence. Throughout the book, readers will see how to study Scripture for comfort and confrontation, but in the final chapter, Welch gives us a thorough meditation on Psalm 46. He models well for us how to do the kinds of Scriptural reflection and meditation that make a difference in our lives.

As a workbook, then, it is not simply communicating information but helping us to apply it to our particular fears and lives. In this regard, it is a great resource for counselors to utilize with struggle individuals. It would also serve well as a small group tool. Combined with Welch’s larger volume Running Scared this resource will give much ammunition to the fight against fear and anxiety. While the latter book gives much more detail, the value of the personalized questions in the workbook cannot be overstated. In addition, the weekly goals reiterated at the end of each chapter give tangible things for individuals to work on and reflect on throughout the week. Again, Welch is not naively implying that just working through a book will make fear abate, it is a “life-long process,” he says. The weekly goals help to drive this point home.

I really appreciated this book, finding more value in it than in the larger volume. Yet, combined with Running Scared, this is a great resource for fearful people and for those seeking to help them. I highly recommend Welch’s dual volumes.

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Andreas Kostenberger- The Jesus of the Gospels: An Introduction

Andreas Kostenberger- The Jesus of the Gospels: An Introduction

On today’s Equipping You in Grace, Dave and Dr. Andreas Kostenberger discuss strategies to read the Gospels, how the Gospels use the Old Testament and how this helps Christians read the Gospel rightly, along with advice for preaching and teaching the Gospels, along...

Suffering Well in Community

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I am most definitely not a fisherman. I subscribe to the old saying, “There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.” So, maybe I am not the one to use a fishing illustration to begin. However, there is something that even I have picked...

The Love and Peace of Christ

The Love and Peace of Christ

Colossians 3:14-15, “14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Continuing his discussion of what the new...

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