When I Am Afraid by Edward T. Welch is a short book. It is also a very powerful book. The author sets forth his intended goals at the beginning of the book.
- You want to hone your spiritual instincts so that you turn to Christ when anxious thoughts arise.
- You want to know what Jesus says because when you turn to him in this way his words go deep.
- You want to be less fearful and anxious and more content and hopeful.
- You want to be more confident that God’s communication to you in the Bible speaks meaningfully to all the struggles of life.
Welch tackles fear and anxiety at the outset. He admits, “to be human is to be afraid.” Therefore, the responsibility of the reader is to recognize and isolate fear and anxiety. He affirms, “So sometimes you will see that your fears mean you are trusting yourself rather than the Lord. But you will always find that fear and worry are opportunities to hear God, to either turn toward him or to keep facing him and grow in trusting him.”
In chapter two, the author continues to focus on the need to trust God. He sets forth some practical principles that point to God’s promise to deliver his people:
- We trust in God not because he delivers us from every fearful situation, but because he alone is King.
- He will always be with us in fearful situations.
- He will deliver his people, but at times his deliverance will be more sophisticated than we can understand.
- God will give you grace when you need it.
Chapter three discusses the relationship between fear and money. Welch writes, “When you turn away from securing your own kingdom, which teeters on bankruptcy anyway, you get the true kingdom.”
Chapter four summarizes the fear many people have concerning death. Chapter five contains practical counsel for dealing with the fear of man: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Prov. 29:25).
Welch goes to the core of the matter in chapter six with a good discussion regarding the promises of God: “God is not passive in his nearness. When God says he is present, it means he is doing something on your behalf. He is giving you manna. He is keeping promises and giving grace when you need it. God is never passive, and certainly he is never powerless.”
Chapter seven makes an appeal to Psalm 46 and leads the reader to the redemptive work of Christ: “With the Cross of Jesus proclaiming that your sins have been paid for, and with his resurrection assuring you that he is now the reigning King, you can trust him for the future and focus on today.”
When I Am Afraid is worth reading. Edward Welch steers readers away from the precipice of selfishness and directs them toward the work of Christ. He clearly articulates the biblical reality that “love expels fear.” Built into the book are a series of thought-provoking questions and space for biblical meditation and response. When I Am Afraid would be best utilized in a small group Bible study or a one on one discipleship.