"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety is a form of fear, fear of failure, fear of not having done well enough, fear of not being good enough.
Christians often experience anxiety over their salvation. "Have I done what God has commanded? Am I living in his grace? Has he forgiven all of my sins, even ones I have forgotten and haven’t named to him? Am I saved? If I died today, would I lose my soul, or would I be in heaven?"
You can get a sense of the anxiety Christians experience by asking them if they are saved. Ask them if they would go to heaven if they died today. Usually the answer is something like, "I hope so." In that lack of certainty anxiety is born. Fear.
Not all of our fears are as deep and theologically oriented as questions of salvation. Many of our anxious thoughts are about things like the ball game, our first date, making enough money to pay the bills. These are all important issues, but certainly not of the caliber of fears about heaven or hell.
Whether our fear is about something relatively trite, like if we’ll score a basket in the game, or extremely significant, like if we are going to heaven, our fears are very real to us and very important.
Solomon understood that. He understood that "An anxious heart weighs a man down ..." An anxious heart robs us of energy during the day and it keeps us up at night. It disrupts our focus and disturbs our peace. An anxious heart is not pleasant.
Time and experience teaches us that if we look at our worries in context and think far enough ahead, we can work ourselves out of our anxiety. Most of what we worry about won’t come to pass.
But there is another source of comfort to us when we are anxious: the presence of an encouraging person. "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."
Some people are blessed with insight into another’s heart and concerns. They seem able to read the signs of someone’s distress, and they have the heart to relieve them of that discomfort. They speak words that lift the spirits and enliven the heart. These people are encouragers. So important is their work that the Holy Spirit has actually gifted them with the ability to encourage others (Romans 12:8).
Why don’t we see more people with this gift? Why don’t we exercise it more ourselves? Maybe our own hearts won’t allow us. Charles Swindoll writes, "There are those who seem to be waiting for the first opportunity to confront. Suspicious by nature and negative in style, they are determined to find any flaw, failure, or subtle weakness in your life, and to point it out. There may be twenty things they could affirm; instead they have one main goal, to make sure you never forget your weaknesses. Grace killers are big on the shoulds and oughts in their advice. Instead of praising, they pounce!" (Grace Awakening, Dallas: Word, 1990, p.62).
There are those who look for the fault and the failure. But thank God for the gracious man or woman who, having received grace from God for their own shortcomings, are willing to dispense with some of that grace to their anxious friends and neighbors. They have found an important key to a peaceful heart: Grace received and grace shared helps to dispel the fear from an anxious heart.
From "Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and other Gems from Proverbs."