“Men’s hearts failing them from fear.” That’s how Jesus describes the emotional state of global society, right before he comes back. Now, it’s clear from the context of this statement (Luke chapter 21) that we are not in that particular stage of history at this moment, and yet… it’s no profound observation that, at the time of this post, those words are not far off from describing the emotional state of our time as well.
What brought us to this place? For a long time now, many of us have allowed anxiety to live in our heads. Like a mold that’s just behind the wallpaper, we know it’s there—but we haven’t taken the necessary steps to eradicate it. Instead, we’ve maintenance it, but let it live and thrive in us. Working with young people for years, and now young adults, I would call it a true epidemic—a crisis of emotional health. The medicines we’re using don’t work, and so many of the habits we’ve formed actually feed it. Screens and everything that come through them, both technology and content, feed and drive our anxiety. And now, at last, like all diseases do, it’s broken out into the open. Anxiety, evidently, can’t stay hidden for long. And now, it’s ruling us, from the highest levels of society, on down.
To be very clear, I am not saying that the disease threatening us this week is not serious. Calvary Chapel is taking all necessary and recommended precautions, and we’re erring on the side of caution. We want not a single member of our church family, or a single person who’s not connected with our church family, to contract Coronavirus because we were negligent. To endanger a single person would be to fail in love. And so we gladly join the efforts of our local and state community to help make the impact of this disease as small as possible, and we seek to love others by doing whatever we can to help everyone get through this.
Of course, Christians are no more immune to viruses than anyone else. We have the same humanity. The bible teaches us that we should not expect to avoid the same physical sufferings and difficult times that rock the world we live in. But it also teaches something else. While Christians will manifest the same rates of physical sickness, and life trouble, as everyone else, we are clearly called to manifest much lower levels of anxiety.
Consider the one common teaching at the core of all these verses:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew chapter 6)
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians chapter 4)
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter chapter 5)
The common thread is easy to spot. God wove, all through his word, a clear, powerful call to his people: Do not worry. Resist and reject anxiety. No matter how bad things look, trust the Lord, and don’t panic.
What’s the point of all this? The disciple of Christ can expect to live in stressful times. But those who know God have the unique opportunity to move through stressful times without the same stress inside that everyone else is consumed with. In fact, Jesus highlighted it as a crucial issue. And he issued very clear commands on the subject. The rest of the bible calls those who know God to the same thing. Those around us who don’t have Christ are perishing from an inward emptiness and a complete void where they should have life and love. But we have the River of life, satisfying our souls at the deepest level. And those who are drinking deeply from the river have an obligation to move through thirsty crowds looking like (and actually being) people who are deeply taken care of—because we are.
The world is unstable. But the kingdom of God is coming. We are vulnerable. But nothing can separate us from God’s love. Death may stalk us, even overtake us. But not a hair of our heads will perish. Parents, governments, experts may fail. But we have a Father in Heaven. The familiar things may end. Fear Not—The I Am is the beginning and the end, his kingdom will never end.
So let all the News prattle on, Fake or Real. They know all kinds of things, but they don’t know the crucial things. They greatly err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. We don’t disdain them. But neither do we join them in their panic. We soberly take stock of the world around us, just as it comes to us, on any given day. We do the necessary things for the day at hand. We rise. We pray. We work. We shop. We talk about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. We care for others. We plan. We sleep. We wake up, cast our care on God, and do it again, in his allotted strength, for one more day.
So, young adults of Calvary Philly, let’s rise to the occasion. Let’s seek God, and rely on him as our strength. Let’s eliminate from our lives anything that would distract or come between us and him. Let’s be open to how God might want to meet with us in these times, and to how he might want to use us in these times.
And here’s one final note: My friends, there is a good chance that you’re reading this because you saw our post on Instagram or Facebook pointing you to the blog. When you finish the article, please, don’t go back on social media. Don’t go back on YouTube. Put your phone down. Put it away. Don’t run to Netflix. This is not the time to binge watch anything. All those things will just stoke the fires of your anxiety. They will drown out the voice of God, make sleep difficult, and rob you of the peaceful friendship of God’s presence. Instead, take this time as an invitation to draw near to God. Go to Him. And he will draw near to you.