Are you a worrier? I confess to being a worrier. Yes, I know all of the injunctions against worrying. I know it accomplishes nothing. I know that worrying steals joy from today because we’re too consumed with tomorrow. And yes, I struggle on.
I recently picked up the book Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety With Peace, by Timothy Lane. I’ve read a few books on the subject of anxiety, and this one is one of the best.
Lane begins with defining what worry is and is not, and why we shouldn’t do it. He discusses worry in the context of our past, present, and future, and then moves into practical steps to help those who struggle with worrying.
I found Lane’s definition of worry helpful. He defines it as “over-concern.” There is nothing wrong with being concerned. It is what parents have when their children are playing outside near the road, or are sick with a fever. When it begins to take over our lives, it becomes worry, or over-concern. Lane borrows a phrase from the Bible scholar, Dick France, to clarify his definition: it is over-concern about something other than the kingdom of God. I found that helpful, to think about worry as it relates to our place in the kingdom of God. That is something Lane refers to again in the book.
Lane reminds us that worry can be a reflection of what we love:
…worry is over-concern that results from “over-loving” something—that is, loving it more than God. Concern results when you love something in the proper way and not more than God. Indifference is a lack of love. It is the opposite of worry, not the antidote or cure for worry.
The principle that worry is a reflection of our attitude toward God is repeated often, and though it is a hard thing to hear, Lane does not come across as harsh. He recognizes that some people are more prone to worry, and it is something they will battle.
In the ninth chapter, Lane gives practical suggestions, beginning with the verse that most worrisome people have had others share with them many times: I Peter 5:6-11. Casting our cares on God means relating to God personally. Lane says:
When you are struggling with anxiety, you must talk to and relate to God. There is no other way to experience lasting, abiding change, for this is the only way to change our hearts.
Lane’s suggestion for fostering that heart change is to meditate on Scripture, specifically the Psalms. He gives a helpful list of Psalms which are good for that purpose, and then he takes the reader through Psalm 27 as an example. Many of the Psalms show someone struggling with worry and anxiety. We can learn much from those examples about how we ought to relate to God in an anxious moment.
The last chapter shows what Jesus himself said about worry as he spoke to in a vision Paul (Acts 18:9-11). In a nutshell, he said, “Don’t be afraid; keep on speaking; don’t be silent.” His reassuring words to Paul were, “I am with you,” and I think that is the truth we have to tell ourselves over and over again, even when it feels like we’re only repeating it in vain. We have to live by faith even when we feel like we can’t do it. I liked Lane’s words on this matter:
Faith involves doing the very opposite of what comes naturally. And sometimes it feels wooden and insincere, but it is not. Don’t be fooled by your mere emotions. While it is often good to have your emotions right in step with your behavior, it is not always the case.
Even in the midst of worry and anxiety, we have to live our lives. If we wait to move forward until we don’t feel worried, we will find ourselves not really living. In those anxious moments, we have to keep moving forward regardless of how we feel.
This book was very readable without glossing over the truth. Lane does not try to candy coat the issue, and is very clear about the fact that worry is sin. But he is not harsh about it, and his words offer hope. There are always going to be things to worry about. Some seasons, they are worse than others. But they will come. We can grow through them by learning to battle them, and I think this book has a lot of great suggestions to help us with that.
Title: Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace
Author: Timothy Lane
Publisher: The Good Book Company (2015)
Kim lives in Southern Ontario with her husband of 28 years. She has three adult children. She is a blogger, bible teacher, reader, and seminary student. She blogs at The Upward Call and Out of the Ordinary.