This is a book review series of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.
Chapter One – Chapter Two – Chapter Three – Chapter Four – Chapter Five – Chapter Six – Chapter Seven – Chapter Eight – Chapter Nine – Chapter Ten – Chapter Eleven – Chapter Twelve – Chapter Thirteen – Chapter Fourteen – Chapter Fifteen – Chapter Sixteen – Chapter Seventeen – Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen is titled “The Wife’s Fear: Overcoming Anxiety.” Does the title alone make you anxious to wonder what she will say?
Much like anger in the previous chapter, fear is associated with a lack of trusting in God. With handy lists, Peace recommends that wives biblicaly align their thinking to handle fears instead of truly addressing what is causing the fear. One example of fear referenced at the beginning of the chapter is:
A wife might spend the day sitting in her room with the shades drawn in a panic for fear that if she gets in the car to go to the grocery store she might be killed in a wreck. As a consequence, none of her God-given responsibilities would be completed for that day.
In the above example, Peace is more concerned that a wife will not be able to fulfill her “God-given responsibilities” instead of addressing a fear that debilitates her to the point of not being able to function. This is a mental health concern that needs treatment, not being told that you aren’t doing your God-given job. I find this a total lack empathy and compassion toward someone with a mental health issue.
Peace also states that when a wife fears, she is not acknowledging the power of God within her. She uses the example of Paul exhorting Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7:
You, possibly like Timothy, become fearful because of what you think about particular circumstances, not because of the circumstances themselves. As a result, your focus becomes more and more inward. You become more and more frightened. Typically you think, ‘What’s going to happen to me?’ An inward focus is a selfish focus, and the fear that results from selfish thinking is not from God. It is a consequence of your own sin.
Here we see that fear is sinful. Why? Fear is a natural emotion experienced by everyone. There are many reasons why we might fear real circumstances happening to us or fear the unknown. Peace’s solution is to memorize scripture and change your thought patterns to be more biblical. One example of a biblical thought is (parentheses are included in the text):
‘I am afraid he will respond badly, but I don’t know that to be a fact (true thought). My responsibility is to confront him (right thought). When I do God will help me’ (honoring and good repute thought).
Let’s look at this biblical thought through the lens of a wife who experiences abuse (parentheses are my thoughts). “I am afraid he will respond badly (true thought). I am afraid because it is a fact that he has hurt me before when I responded this way (true thought). I am afraid to respond in any way because I don’t know how he will react (true thought). If I confront him, I might get hurt (right thought due to past experience). God will help me if I confront him (unknown thought based upon experience).”
While I fully understand the power of positive thinking, verses and thoughts will not take away the reality of what is happening. How is a wife to believe that God will help her confront her abusive husband if she has prayed for years for him to change and the pain to end and nothing happens?
What frustrates me most about this chapter is that there is no acknowledgment that fear is a valid emotion. I feel sorry for wives who buy into the lie that if they are fearful, then they are sinning and not experiencing a right relationship with God.