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Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry Paperback – October 2, 2014
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"Pastors need to read this book, and recommend it to their people. Plus, they can use it as a study or preaching guide within their churches. This is a serious issue for most Christians and it is seldom addressed as biblically and practically as Simpson does in this exceptional resource." (Brad Hoefs, Outreach Magazine's Resources of the Year, March/April 2015)
"Worry disorients us. Anxiety can paralyze us. In Anxious Amy Simpson gives us a Gods-eye-view of the world, demonstrating that worry and anxiety are foreign to life in the kingdom. This will be a book to which I will return when I need encouragement to trust God. Anxious reorients us to God and his perspective in Scripture, bringing peace to a knotted soul." (Marlena Graves, author, A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness)
"Amy Simpson tells us that worry ought not keep us up at night, but this page-turner will! As fascinating as it is funny, as convicting as it is clever, Anxious gives us a gander into Jesus' mind and what he must've been thinking when he said, 'Do not worry.' Do not miss this terrific book." (Caryn Rivadeneira, author of Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed About God's Abundance)
"Amy Simpson challenges our popular approaches to worry. Many of us believe worrying isn't a problem for us; she helps us realize that it is. We often believe we can overcome worry through willpower or good behavior. She helps us understand that it's far more effective to address worry as a problem with the way we think, rooted in what we believe about God. Here's the good news: there is hope for all of us worried people, and it's found in faith." (Anita Lustrea, host of Midday Connection, speaker and author of What Women Tell Me)
"Challenging the idolatrous underpinnings of worry, former Christianity Today executive Amy Simpson encourages us to root our faith in who God is, not in our own will power." (Light Magazine, October 2014)
"Pastoral hint: keep a copy of Anxious on your shelf for the parishioners who seek you out because they feel anxious about life." (Willard E. Roth, Sharing the Practice, June 2015)
"Anxious provides sound advice for worriers, those who live with worriers, those who minister to worriers and those 'who are convinced worry isn't a problem in their lives,' because it is for someone they know. After all, as Christians, the future belongs to God, and worry won't change a thing." (Kathy Robinson Hillman, Baptist Standard, April 13, 2015)
About the Author
Amy Simpson (MBA, University of Colorado) is a passionate leader and communicator who loves to encourage Christs church and its people to discern and fulfill their calling in this life. Amy is a former publishing executive who currently serves as editor of Christianity Todays Gifted for Leadership and senior editor of Leadership Journal. She is also a personal and professional Co-Active coach. She has spent nearly two decades as an award-winning writer, authoring numerous resources for Christian ministry, including Diving Deep: Experiencing Jesus Through Spiritual Disciplines, In the Word: Bible Study Basics for Youth Ministry, Into the Word: How to Get the Most from Your Bible and Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission. She has published articles with Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, Todays Christian Woman, Christian Singles, Group magazine, Relevant, Her.meneutics, and others. She has worked for Tyndale House Publishers, Group Publishing, Gospel Light, Standard Publishing, LifeWay, Focus on the Family, and Christianity Today. Amy holds an English degree from Trinity International University and an MBA from the University of Colorado. She is deeply in love with her incredible husband, Trevor, and extremely proud of her two fantastic kids. She lives with these wonderful people in Illinois, where she is committed to using the gifts God has given her in work that changes the world. Visit Amy's website at www.amysimpsononline.com or follow her on Twitter at @aresimpson.
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Then you read Amy Simpson’s new book. It says: “a lifestyle of worry is incompatible with a life of faith.” And you think to yourself, Is this woman for real? Does she not understand the hard things I’m going through?
Yes, and yes. Amy Simpson is for real. She understands. She’s a wife, a mother, a worker. Her mother is schizophrenic. Her brother-in-law survived stage-3 liver cancer. Her husband is a licensed counselor. She wrote a book on mental illness. When she says that worry and faith are incompatible, she’s not saying it from some airy-fairy height untouched by trouble.
Rather, she says that faith and worry are incompatible because that is what Jesus himself says. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” Doing so shows that we have “little faith” (Matt. 6:25, 30). The key question, then, is not whether world events and personal troubles make us anxious or afraid, but whether we turn to God in faith in the midst of such things.
At the outset of Anxious, Simpson makes some common-sense distinctions between fear, anxiety, and worry that are very helpful. “Unlike fear,” she writes, “worry is not an immediate response to real or perceived danger; it’s anticipatory, rooted in concern about something that may or may not happen. Unlike normal anxiety, it’s not an involuntary physical response but a pattern we choose to indulge. It rises not from outside us but from within.” Fear and anxiety happen; worry is a choice.
And because we choose it in the first place, we can unchoose it on second thought. Simpson offers two good reasons to do so:
First, worry hurts us and by extension, those we love. The longest chapter in Anxious is chapter 3, “Worry’s Many Destructive Powers.” It outlines the many mental, physical, and relational problems that worry causes. If you want to avoid those problems, avoid worry.
But second, worry is based on bad theology. You might be wondering what theology has to do with good mental health. Simpson’s husband is a cognitive-behavioral therapist. What this means is that he helps his clients understand how their beliefs shape the emotional problems they experience. Long before cognitive-behavioral therapy was a gleam in a psychologist’s eye, Jesus showed the connection between wrong beliefs and negative emotions. “Look at the birds of the air,” Jesus said, just after telling his disciples not to worry; “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 6:26). Good theology contributes to good mental health.
Of course, good theology can’t stay in our minds. It must translate into action. Many of us affirm Jesus’ words with our heads, but they don’t trickle down into how our hearts feel or how our hands act. So, in chapters 6, 7, and 8, Simpson addresses “three things that keep us clinging to worry: a faulty perspective, a desire to possess and control the future, and a possessive attachment to the people and things of this world.” For me, these were the most challenging chapters of the book, revealing the subtle ways that my pride, control, and consumerism lie at the base of my worries.
Replacing worry with faith is not an easy thing, and Simpson doesn’t claim that it is. Throughout, she uses the language of process to describe the changes that need to take place, but also the language of repentance. Getting rid of worry is good mental health, but it is also a necessary spiritual practice. Our worry, driven by a desire to possess and control, comes between us and a God who alone is sovereign, and whose mercies alone can heal.
The book ends with a lovely statement about God that is worth sharing:
Why Trust God?
He never fails
He never leaves us
He never disappoints us
He loves us unconditionally
He’s the creator of all things
He transforms us from the inside
He forgives our sins
He knows everything
He rules the future
He is all-powerful
He is everywhere
He is good
He is great
Ultimately, worry comes down to our theology and what we believe about God. If we are worrying, we are not trusting God. This book gives a rundown of who God is and why we can put our trust in Him.
"We, who are among the most comfortable Christians in history, have no business embracing fear and letting worry drain us of the strength God gives. It's time for us to repent of worry, recognize we can make a different choice, and pursue the frightening freedom and baffling peace of trust in God."
Examples are given of what it was like for people during the Bible times who were asked by God to trust Him. They didn't have the written Scriptures like we do. How much more should we be able to trust God, having the evidence of His faithfulness throughout the Bible?
"This is not about simply 'handing our worries over to God'; it's about understanding how incredibly powerful and trustworthy God is, how much higher his ways are than ours, how ridiculous it is for us to cling to the illusion of control and the fear of what is small in God's view. It's about putting our concerns in their proper place, in relationship to God's concerns. It's about who God is, not who we are. It means taking seriously Paul's instruction to 'let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think' (Rom 12:2)."
This short, easy-to-read book packs a good punch in the battle against worry that we face. Reasons to worry abound, but reasons to trust God abound even more. While not taking lightly the struggle of worry, the author reminds us that God is all-powerful, compassionate and in control, Someone who is trustworthy and has proved that over and over. A recommended read for those who struggle with worry, offering encouragement to grow in our trust in God.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my review.
For the most part, I found enough to enjoy in “Anxious”. It was a quick read, but it spoke well into everybody’s situation. Having read the book, I have been challenged: repent when I am anxious, and when I am worried, or when I try to wrestle control away from God. For those who have never considered themselves one to worry, this book is worth checking out. But check it out in the context of the gospel, and remember that we don’t transform outside of the grace of God through Christ, the risen one.