Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of RestRunning Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest
Edward T. Welch
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Learn to conquer your fear! Acknowledging that it is our travel companion from infancy to death, respected counselor Welch investigates the ramifications of living in the grip of anxiety, worry, and dread---and offers a biblical road map that leads to a life of peace and security. Comprehensive, conversational, and comforting! Paperback.
     

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Edward Welch

Edward T. Welch graduated from seminary in 1978 and then went on to study at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology (Neuropsychology) in 1981. He currently serves as counselor, faculty member and director of the School of Biblical Counseling at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and as professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.


 
When did you decide to write Running Scared? What connects this new release with your earlier work?
In When People are Big and God is Small I wrote about one kind of fear Ė fear of man (a.k.a., codependency) and that left me eager to think more about fear in general. I touched on fear again in a book on depression, Depression Ė A Stubborn Darkness, but I could only devote a short chapter to it. After that, I couldnít wait to devote a larger book to the topic. Each time I spent time in Scripture with fear in mind I saw that God seems to reserve his most beautiful words and most beautiful portraits of himself for those who worry and are afraid. That made the project irresistible.
In your introduction to Running Scared you admit that you are a "fear specialist." Can you explain that term to us and tell us why you think the term describes you?
Iíd like to say that "fear specialist" means that I am an expert Ė world class Ė when it comes to knowing and conquering fear. But what it means is that, among the more common human problems, I have always had a bent toward fear and worry. So the book was certainly personal.
You begin Running Scared by taking a look at the way in which fear affects us in childhood. How does God's gift of imagination become a "fear factor" for children?
If a problem is truly universal, then we should find it in very young children, and, indeed, children are kindred spirits for all fear specialists. All they have to do is imagine a possible fear and it becomes vivid and present to them. The good news is that children can have wonderfully elaborate imaginary play. The bad news is that they can be absolutely certain that something is drooling under the bed.
Did you have any special fears as a child?
Letís see. Of course, there were Boogey men Ė under the bed and in the closet. But they were not a significant problem as long as I took a running jump into bed. Of course, every noise after midnight was a bad thing, but they didnít have any particular names. Please tell me you had them too.
In that first chapter you examine the changing face of fear as we grow from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood. Can you summarize that progression for us? Are there any periods in our lives when fear is healthy or beneficial to us?
Fear can always have its good side. Take away fear and you end up with reckless people whose life is always in danger. Itís like anger in that sense. There is a good side to anger. There are real injustices in the world. But what we usually see is anger Ė or fear Ė after it runs amok. When you trace fearís development through life it changes, but only a little. For example, most of us donít worry about Boogey men, though we still donít like the noises after midnight. When you get to teen years, our fears and worries about our reputations kick in. A little later and you are worried about money. Then comes the granddaddy of all fears, the fear of death.

What are the differences between fears and phobias? Between fears and anxiety?

Phobias are more targeted fears. They are intense fears attached to specific objects or activities. While most fear scans the world around us and attaches to the fear of the day, phobias have an especially long concentration span.

While we can make distinctions among fears, phobias, panic and worry, they all have a common theme: they live in the future where they predict the worse. Fearful people are prophets and seers, always looking up ahead.

We learn in your work that fear is directly linked to both depression and anger. In what ways do these three emotions interact or coexist?
You can find fear in the strangest places. Some of the more common hiding places include depression and anger. Depression typically predicts the worst and gives up. There is the fear Ė its hopelessness about the future. Depression is paralytic fear. Anger is a common way that men express fear. Men arenít authorized to show weakness, so they can express it in their anger.
Mid-way in Running Scared, you shift your focus from a fairly clinical study of how fear manifests itself in our lives to the lessons we learn from scripture regarding fearóin other words, to what God has to say to us about fear. You devote a full chapter to the Manna in the Wilderness. What does this lesson from Exodus teach us?
The story about Manna is very powerful. In it God tells us that he will give us what we need for today, but he wonít give us what we need for tomorrow, at least not yet. The New Testament calls it grace rather than Manna. This means that if we look ahead to the future we will naturally be afraid because we are imaging it but without grace to deal with it. So we focus on what is in front of us, and we look forward to the new grace that God will give us tomorrow.
Later in the book, you look carefully at the teachings of Jesus. Why do you say that the Sermon on the Mount "stands on the shoulders" of the Manna story?
In Matthew 6 and Luke 12, Jesus says, "Do not worry." They are great passages. They are even better when you realize that the Manna story is what most Jews are thinking about when they hear it. Try reading them with the Manna story in mind.
Finally, what do God's covenants with us teach us about how we should face fear?
Covenants are a legal and Old Testament way of talking about promises. What is precious about covenants is that God renews them with his people through the Old Testament, and he renews them when people are afraid. They are like turbo-charged promises to help out-of-control people trust their God who loves them. Jesus, of course, is the once-and-for-all promise to fearful people.

 
Posted 04/10/2008