Millions of Americans are struggling to adapt to the pandemic’s “new normal.” Our lives, plans, dreams, work, culture, school, meetings, church, sports, events, gatherings, medical procedures, travel, vacations are either canceled, postponed, masked, upended, or diminished.
We are anxious about finances, jobs, and health. Will we get the virus? If we have it, will we die? Will we recover? Will we get it again?
This week I read a depressing piece headlined “The Coming ‘Religion Recession'” about how COVID-19 has impacted church finances. The following quote caught my eye: “A Pew survey showed that one-quarter of Americans say the pandemic has strengthened their faith, and downloads of Bible and prayer apps are spiking.”
Praise God that He is there for us during this time and always. He is in control of an out-of-control world. But however true, and no matter how much I believe that, I still need to be reminded. These days I am often disheartened how the pandemic is impacting my life, but worse, the horrific toll it is taking on our nation and the world. And like a fishing rod, I reel myself back, reminded of His power and glory.
Writing this Bible Study today is faith therapy. I don’t know where this nation is headed, but it doesn’t look good. Swoosh, I reel back. He is in control! Truth conveyed in the following passages always lift my spirits and, hopefully, yours as well.
We start with a centuries-old mandate for dealing with anxiety. No matter how many times I have read St. Paul’s eloquent words, it’s as if I am reading them for the first time. If so moved, read them aloud. Internalize this message. We are on a journey. Don’t stop believing.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Let’s face it, we are weak and frail humans. We are anxious about everything, especially when our world has been turned upside down. So, those blessed with the gift of faith turn to Him for strength. (And if you are not blessed with such a gift, it is free for the asking.)
We know prayer combats anxiety. Prayer is the antidote for anxiety. Prayer opens up the heavens to His glory and blessings beyond our imagination and comprehension. We know this. However, doubt and fear are tools the devil uses to gain a foothold in our hearts, minds, and souls. Fight back with prayer.
Here is some advice from the Apostle Peter who experienced a little anxiety here and there along “the Way.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6 -7).
But “casting all your anxiety on him” takes abundant faith, practice, and understanding. He knows exactly what we are feeling. He knows our past, present, and future. Do we know that He knows? St. Paul famously wrote:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Knowing, deeply knowing, Paul’s message is key to coping with anxiety. The problem is the presence of a Grand Canyon-sized gap between our anxiety and delivering that anxiety into His hands. And then, after delivery, “let go and let God” – an old, profound cliché.
He is waiting for us to do that. And when we do, we can rejoice in the wisdom of the Psalm:
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).