Reviewed by Dr Catherine Hollier
4 MINUTE READ
These are some of the big questions that Paul Grimmond attempts to engage with theologically and biblically in his book, When the Noise Won’t Stop. Anxiety is common – one in four people will suffer from clinical anxiety in their lifetime, many for much of their lifetime. How can we as Christians live well with anxiety?
I found Paul’s thoughtfulness in acknowledging that some parts of his book might trigger those who were anxious helpful, that he recommended people need not read all of it and it was fine to skip parts. He has a personal and engaging style, often addressing his readers directly with humour (eg. “…feel free to jump past it if it’s not your thing. [If it is your thing, welcome to Nerdsville!]”). Grimmond states that he has three audiences in mind: those suffering from anxiety, those supporting people with anxiety and those pastoring people with anxiety. He does an admirable job in covering all of these circumstances.
Grimmond states, “This book is an attempt to create a biblically faithful framework for understanding anxiety and then to apply that framework to living with anxiety… The big goal of this book is to think biblically about what anxiety is and to let that shape a wise Christian response to living in light of anxiety.” The chapter headings are helpful:
3. Anxiety in the Bible
4. Living in fallen minds and bodies
5. The gospel is the answer, but it’s complex
6. Applying the gospel: how sin contributes to anxiety
7. Applying the gospel: finding the security to confront sin
8. Responding to anxiety: engaging our minds in fellowship with others
10. Praying in light of anxiety
He carefully explores guilt, sin and biblical wisdom using both theoretical and practical examples.
It was interesting listening to a male voice as a writer on this topic – maybe since men are generally less likely to disclose anxiety; maybe since in Western culture, men talk less about ‘emotional’ topics. In the background, knowing it was a male voice seemed to carry more weight and authority – I suspect that is reflective of my own cultural lens! It was definitely helpful knowing that the author had lived experience – Paul spoke compassionately and with vulnerability from that. At other times, I felt there was some distance between myself and the writer – mainly in the theological perspective which felt more ‘usual’ when dealing with a masculine voice. Paul addresses the different tones throughout the book in the introduction:
“Because of the breadth and the nature of the subject matter, some of the book feels objective and third-hand, while other parts feel deeply personal and pastoral.”
Grimmond gives us a thumbnail picture of the history of psychology, science and the physiological effects of anxiety, then assisting us with different ways we need to take this into account.
He encourages reading the book in community, which would be helpful in encouraging and supporting the anxious, for whom circumstances may well feel overwhelming.
I wondered how this book might feel to someone actively struggling with anxiety, so asked a friend to read and share her perspective. She responded as follows:
Overall, I found the book helpful. A section that stood out to me was Paul’s reflection on the good of anxiety in the Bible (chapter 3). I’m so used to seeing anxiety as a purely negative thing. His reframing of anxiety as a good thing distorted by sin helped me with the nagging feeling I have that many of my worries are valid, while at the same time being ashamed by how disproportionate and consuming they are. Paul’s exploration of the mind-body link and biblical support for this (chapter 4) was also helpful. I think he was nuanced in communicating that although things like genetics contribute to my anxiety, ie. it’s not ‘my fault’, I still have the power, with God’s help, to change. I also appreciated the reminder that God is sovereign in the section on caring for those with anxiety – more of this earlier could have been helpful. I’m also glad he dealt with the issue of doubting our faith with anxiety. This is less of an issue for me, thankfully, but I have some good friends who experience doubt as an expression of their anxiety.
Overall, I recommend this as a helpful resource for pastors and supporters of those suffering from anxiety, to both understand what anxiety feels like, and to provide a framework for biblical living. For those with anxiety, there is much richness and reassurance from one who has lived a similar journey.
When the Noise Won’t Stop
by Paul Grimmond
ISBN-10 : 1922206555
Matthias Media (1 August 2022)
Dr Catherine Hollier
Dr Catherine Hollier is a part-time GP who never has enough time to read all that she would like. She loves the whole person care of general practice, and disseminating the wisdom of others through Luke’s Journal.