ISSUES OF FAITH: A good word for an anxious heart

I OFTEN HAVE a yellow highlighter in my hand when I read. Sometimes I use it. But sometimes the indwelling Holy Spirit highlights things as I read. I sense his whisper. “Pay attention. Read that again. I want to show you something.”

Such was the case recently while I was reading in Proverbs.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25 ESV). I read it again. You should, too.

Everyone experiences anxiety.

It isn’t partial to age, race, gender or nationality. And everyone feels its weight.

Sometimes it comes in ounces; sometimes pounds; sometimes tons: Overdue bills, waiting for results from the lab test, a job interview, an upcoming exam at school, the first leap from the high dive.

Yes, our daily lives often present some level of anxiety.

Even the Apostle Paul experienced anxiety from the “daily pressure” of caring for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28).

There are some measures we can take to reduce the weight of our anxiety.

Diet and exercise might help reduce stress for the next lab test. Studying for the upcoming exam at school will help.

But sometimes anxiety doesn’t leave until after you take the plunge off the high dive.

Jesus knows that we face anxiety, and he invites us to bring it to him.

Jesus gives us that proverbial good word that can make us glad. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

There’s rest for an anxious soul. I hope that makes you glad.

Jesus invites us to trust him when we are anxious. “[Do] not be anxious about your life … [W]hich of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? … [Do] not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:25, 27, 34).

This is a good word, a word that makes us glad.

But the highlighter wasn’t finished. “Read it again.” “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”

And I finally caught on. I heard. I had been hearing from the receiving end; not the giving end.

I was thinking about who or what makes me and others anxious — and who or what will make me and others less anxious and glad.

But there’s another perspective to explore. Who do I make anxious? Who do I weigh down? And to whom can I bring a good word? Who can I make glad?

Ironically, this perspective made me a little anxious. Sure, anxiety is a part of everyday life, but am I the source of someone’s anxiety?

And how about a good word? A word that makes people glad? Am I a source?

I was being given an invitation. “Look around you, Greg. Be attentive to the people around you. Watch. Closely. Listen. Carefully. Be judicious with a weighty word; be generous with a good word.”

I invite you. Look around. Who can you make glad today with a good word?

You won’t have to look very hard. You won’t have to travel very far.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is jbc@joycebiblechurch.org.

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