Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”
There are three observations that need to be made about this proverb. First, this proverb is not gender-specific. It is using the word “man” in a generic sense of a human being. Thus, the truth of it equally applies to women. Second, we have a personal obligation to “lay aside every encumbrance” (or “weight,” KJV) that inhibits our running of “the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). We are not helpless, and do not have to remain entangled or restricted by the “weight” of anxiety for someone else to assist us. Third, though the “good word,” in a general sense, may and often does come from someone else to make our heart “glad,” it can also assuredly come more specifically from: a) “the statutes of the Lord … rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8); and, b) “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
Consequently, the scriptures provide encouragement and hope to dispel our anxieties whether they are read, taught, or sung (Romans 15:4).
If you allow the anxieties of your heart to isolate you from those who not only want to help but are also best situated to encourage you with the “good word” of God (i.e. your local church brethren); your personal discovery of and devotion to the “good word” of God which can rejuvenate, replenish, and rejoice your heart; and/or, collective worship (including but not limited to singing praises to God); then your anxieties will “weigh down” your heart even further.
Remember Jeremiah’s warning that “the way of man is not in himself” (Jeremiah 10:23). Thus, “soul searching” is only beneficial when we use God’s word as the “mirror” for such self-examination (James 1:22-25). Spending too much time in one’s own head is hurtful rather than helpful in that it typically only compounds the anxieties with additional frustrations. The answers to our anxieties are found externally in God’s word, not internally in ourselves. When Jesus saw people who “were like sheep without a shepherd” (surely anxious and confused), He “began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). He didn’t tell them to spend a year “soul-searching” or “finding themselves,” He taught them the word of God.
What does this all mean? Philippians 4:6 begins, “Be anxious for nothing …” Let that sink in for a moment. “Nothing” is not qualified or exempted with “except” or “unless.” It means no thing. Anxiety about any thing will “weigh down” or “cause depression” in the heart, as we read in Proverbs 12:25.
What if our heart is “weighed down” with anxieties? In addition to the items mentioned above (going to brethren who can and will speak the “good word” to you, devoting yourself to hearing and heeding the word of God, and worshipping collectively with the local congregation of God’s people), note the rest of Philippians 4:6: “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Simply put, give your anxieties to God and then trust Him to handle the situations that produced them in His way (as opposed to your way), and then let them go. And then, to the best of God’s ability, you will have “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v. 7).
Anxieties are not relieved by prayer alone. They are relieved when we pray and then trust God enough to let them go, knowing that He can and will handle the situation(s) in the way that is best. Such prayer must not only include, “Thy will be done, not mine,” but we must mean it and resolve ourselves to be okay with however God choses to handle the situation. I hope thoughts are good words that causes your heart weighed down with anxiety to rejoice.
Adapted from Philip C. Strong