The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety For Good?, by Rhett Smith
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The subtitle of this book rather gives the game away. The obvious answer to its question, for those who have read and believe Romans 8:28, is that God can use our anxiety for good. God can use all kinds of things for good that are not good–rape and murder come to mind, along with other horrible things–and the fact that the author asks if God can use the raw materials of our psyche for good is rather begging the question. Of course God can use the way we are and what we experience for good. Does it mean that such things themselves are good? Not necessarily. This is not a book that views the anxiety of a Christian as a good thing, per se, but rather starts from the true assumption that many Christians, myself included , are anxious people and then explores how God can use that for good in our lives and in our world. This is not a book that speaks of ideals as much as it does the real, and remembering that allows one to appreciate it if you happen to be an anxious Christian as many people are.
The book takes about 200 pages to deal with the author’s points about anxiety. The eight chapters of this book are bookended with a discussion about the author’s stuttering–when it began and how the author lives life with his struggle. In between the author discusses the way that believers should embrace anxiety and welcome uncertainty and avoid being caught in a rut. Our anxiety tells us we are on unsafe ground, and that can lead us to grow if we persist in anxiety until we reach the desired end. The author reimagines anxiety as a way that God can improve our lives through taking risks and building faith and trust, and discusses the way that many believers wrestle with God as Jacob did so long ago. The author talks about the need to live intentionally and not merely by unconscious habit as it is so easy to do. After that the last two chapters look at the need for believers to set and live by godly boundaries as well as refine and improve relationships rather than keeping people at arms length merely because they are difficult to deal with.
There is a lot to praise in this book. Clearly this is an author who speaks from experience about his struggle with anxiety and his fears about the women of his life dying as so many did during his youth from breast cancer. The author clearly wishes to justify his own decisions to embrace therapy (even with non-Christian therapists) and to embrace medicinal treatment for his condition and urges that on others, and there are some who will find this approach a bit uncomfortable. The author clearly approaches, if not cross altogether, the line between description and prescription in areas where there is considerable debate and disagreement about matters of mental health. Thankfully, though, the book avoids becoming a whiny ragamuffin gospel with efforts of self-justification that remove all pleasure or all moral responsibility from the book. This is a book to handle with care, but one to read for encouragement if you happen to be a person who is already clinically anxious. This is not a book about anxiety as an absence of trust in God, as many anti-anxiety books are, but rather a book about how one deals with anxiety as a clinical condition as a believer, which is something that all too many people have a great deal of experience with.
 See, for example: