Friends under anxiety

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Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety weighs down a friend. Especially crushing is the unspecified general feeling of dread. So what is the good word capable of lifting the weight and letting gladness spring up in the heart?

I don’t know. I’m sure there is no formula for the “good word.” The good word is discovered in the give and take of friendship. A person under anxiety will seek connection. But it seems from my own experiences that those first attempts at connecting often go wrong or are dissatisfying. Those of us “outside” the weight may be busy, may diminish the feelings and the situation, and just may miss the bid for connection.

And therein is the danger for friends under anxiety. When the bid for connection doesn’t deliver quickly the brain and body moves on to something else in a hurry. Like a baby goose imprinting on its mother those of us under the weight of anxiety are all likely to latch on to something or someone that “makes us feel better” for the moment.

So, what’s the good word that makes one glad? Think about it. What’s it been for you? 

Well for me, most often it is a word delivered by a friend. It may be as simple as “I’m glad to see you” and accompanied by a smile. Usually its a word delivered after listening and questioning. This good word both recognizes the anxiety and calls me to courage. This good word might be buried in a story. But usually “this good word” highlights a good and noble quality possessed by me and calls it forward as a strength.

This good word… may also point to reasons for hope and faith outside of me to which I may intrust myself. Even if I initially resist this kind of good word from a friend, it still has landed in my heart… even for a moment. This is what the Gospel does; it grounds us in the reality of God’s tender mercy and powerful strength for us. And so I believe that though the good words of formal blessings may seem strange to our common conversation patterns, they are powerful for us. Here are three:

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
Romans 16:19-20 
19
But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

 
Numbers 6:24-26
24May the LORD bless you and protect you.
25May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
26May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.
You probably have friends under anxiety. I hope you will connect with them and see if the Spirit of God generates a good word between you. A good word cannot be rushed!

I pray for you, that our Sovereign LORD would give you His words of wisdom so that you may know how to encourage the anxious. May He waken you morning by morning and open your understanding to His will. (Drawn from Isaiah 50:4)

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