The coronavirus pandemic has introduced a new set of stressors into our daily lives. All of our patterns and paradigms are shifting as society scrambles to respond. As we go through this, we may be asking questions like these: What is the danger? Will I or someone I love get sick? How will I get food and supplies? Will my job be affected? Will I receive a paycheck? How will I pay the bills? Sure, each of these items may be an area of concern on any normal day, but they are multiplied and intensified by what is happening in the world right now.
In the midst of all of this, I am deeply aware that I need God’s peace. I am reminded of the encouragement that Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9, ESV
What does this mean for me? In the area of anxiety, I don’t think I can say that I am afraid of the virus. I understand the risks, and I am taking the necessary precautions. I am trying to be reasonable and considerate of others. I want to protect my loved ones, and I am doing what I can. However, when it comes to the disruptions brought about by this crisis, things are different. I haven’t settled in to a “new normal.” I have been immersed in the tasks of finding reliable information, developing plans, staying connected with people, learning new tech, monitoring finances, keeping up with regular tasks of an already full life, taking care of my wife and children…the list goes on. How can I get it all done? While I hear others comment on what they’re doing with their newfound spare time in the shutdown, I feel like I need another day in the week. (Agnes told me that God was not likely to answer that prayer.) So, if I’m honest, I have found myself feeling anxious and not a little irritable.
However, God is meeting me here, and I am learning to trust him in new ways. He is the Lord of heaven and earth; I am not. He is calling me to love, to serve, and to work hard, but he is also calling me to rest in him. I have to accept these new limits and receive God’s grace in them. If I pay attention, this is where I will see him at work, both in me and in the world. He can do things in ways and in places that I can’t. I must choose to receive this as a gift and enjoy his peace.
What does this look like for you? What are the things that cause you stress? What are your concerns? What makes you feel anxious? What are you worried about? What are you afraid of? I encourage you to discuss these honestly with God. His word says that he is not far off, but rather, he is near. Seek his face in prayer. Talk to him about what you’re feeling, and make your requests with thanksgiving. Set your mind on the things of God rather than the things of this earth. Contemplate his goodness, and praise his name. His peace will be with you, and he will guard your hearts and minds.
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”Luke 12:22-32, ESV