This is the first post in a series of book reviews that I will be posting on this blog. Recently I took a Biblical Counseling course at Toronto Baptist Seminary. The course requires me to read through several biblical counseling books and write a “One Main Thing Paper” in response. A “One Main Thing Paper” is a two-page reflection that identifies the author’s argument and key concepts as well as draws out and develops the one main thing that I learned from the book and can apply to my ministry. I am posting each book review in case you are interested in reading any of these books.
Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch
There is not a single human being on this earth who does not at times struggle with fear, worry, and anxiety. For many, these are issues that run deep within our souls. Ed Welch, in his book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, seeks to get to the bottom of our fear and worry and look to the Scriptures for hope. In his book, he argues that our fears expose the deeper idols of our heart. He writes, “Listen to your fears and you hear them speak about things that have personal meaning to you. They appear to be attached to things we value.” Therefore, instead of minimizing or writing them off, we must expose our fears—each and every one of them. Welch argues, “Expose them to the light of day because the more you find, the more blessed you will be when you hear words of peace and comfort.” Welch further explains that our fears are attached to what we think we need. For example, “If we need approval from others, we will fear being criticized. If we need love, we will fear rejection.” Anxiety and worry usually stem from our fears and our perceived needs. When we look to the future and foresee the possibility that we might not receive what we think we need, we begin to worry and be anxious.
So what is the solution to our fear, worry, and anxiety? Welch contends, “The issue isn’t so much whether or not we are afraid and worry. Scripture assumes that we will be afraid and anxious at times. What is important is where we turn, or to whom we turn when we are afraid.” In other words, the solution to our fear, worry, and anxiety is none other than Jesus Christ himself. “If we don’t find our life and strength in Jesus Christ, we will go from one worry to the next.” He is the bread of life (John 6:35). He is the true Manna from heaven (John 6:32). He is the one that will give us the grace we need to get through today and the one we can trust to give us the grace we will need to get through tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). As we turn to him, he does not promise grace that removes hardships from our lives, but rather he promises to walk with us through them until that day when they do cease. We must cling to these promises in his Word of a future deliverance and a future kingdom. “While you are engaged with God and the truth of his kingdom, you will notice that the scenery is changing. You are headed home—the place where his kingdom has come and God is with you in the fullest sense.”
The one main thing that I have taken away from this book and will use in my ministry is the idea that it is important to listen to your fears because they expose the idols in your heart. In the past, as I have had the opportunity to minister to people that struggle with worry and anxiety, I have been too quick to point them to familiar texts such as Matthew 6 and Philippians 4 and as a result I think I have failed to spend enough time investigating some of their fears to uncover the deeper issues of their hearts. Welch’s book has taught me the importance of exposing fears and investigating what they tell us about ourselves and about God. Our perceived needs not only determine our fears, they also expose the inner desires of our soul. Once these inner desires are uncovered, we can use God’s Word to effectively uproot them and replace them with a desire for Christ and his kingdom. This process does not happen overnight. It happens one degree of glory at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18).
 Edward T. Welch, Running Scared (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2007), 24.
 Ibid., 28.
 Ibid., 41.
 Ibid., 69.
 Ibid., 131.
 Ibid., 142.
 Ibid., 311.