How are you handling the pandemic? Are you afraid that you are going to come down with COVID or one of its variants? I would imagine that most of us are concerned. I don’t think any of us want it to catch us. I was hospitalized with it in January 2021. Three months later I had a terrible reaction to the second vaccine and wound up in the emergency room. Try as we might, there are some things that are going to catch up with us no matter how careful we are.
The longer this pandemic lasts the more information is coming out that some of the measures that have been mandated may not have been best for us. The isolation, separation, and even some of the treatments have taken a toll on many people. The suicide rate among young people has been awful. Worst of all is the way the pandemic and treatments have been politicized.
This meditation is not about the pandemic. I have intentionally focused on it to make the case why worry might be a major factor and how to deal with worry. Someone once said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It won’t get you very far, but it will give you something to do.”
Over the years I have sought to help people who are tormented with different kinds of phobias. A phobia is an exaggerated or irrational fear of an object, activity, or situation that poses little, to no real danger. They provoke overwhelming levels of anxiety and intense reactions that dramatically impact a person’s life. The good news is that by facing our fears and consistently relying on God and His word, healing can be experienced. Some of the more common fears or phobias are – fear of water, fear of the dark, fear of abandonment, fear of open spaces, fear of failure, fear of heights, fear of falling, fear of death. These are just a few of the issues that many people wrestle with.
The main New Testament word for worry is merimnao which means “to be anxious, or distracted, or to have a divided mind”. This is the word that Jesus used in Matthew 6:25 when He said, “Do not worry about your life.” The Apostle Paul used the same word in Philippians 4:6 when he wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (vs 7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have read several times that, at a certain depth in the ocean, the water is absolutely calm, even when there is a fierce storm raging on the surface. (Now I have not gone down to check it out because I am not that good of a swimmer). That information however reminds me of Isaiah 26:3 where we read, “You (LORD) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.” (NIV)
In 2009, Our Daily Bread Ministries put out a little booklet titled “Overcoming Worry.” In the booklet, they tell the story (or let her tell her story), about her problem with anxiety. Her name is Joanie Yoder and she wrote, “My life was filled with anxiety and worry, but I was able to cover it up like a lot of people do until I had an experience that caused me to hit rock bottom. It was then I was forced to face my anxieties, my fears, my dread, and my worries.”
Later in the little booklet, she wrote, “I had to hit rock bottom and come to the end of myself before I could discover the sufficiency of Christ and allow Him to change me.” She went on to say, “God began to rehabilitate me according to what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6 (NIV) ‘Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’”
My dear brother and sister are you allowing the One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present and unchanging, who loves you with perfect love, to do His good work in your life?
Joanie went on to say, “Early on in my progress toward wholeness, God showed me four disciplines, which had a profound effect on my life.”
1. Read – the Bible, so that you have something to feast on.
2. Pray – so that you have someone to feast with. We can be in a season of prayer at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.
3. Trust – trusting God for the things we cannot control. We need to release these things to God who can control them. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV) says, “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.”
4. Obey Him – He wants us to obey Him in the things we can control. (You were probably thinking that I was going to introduce you to four Greek words and then extrapolate from them every ounce of meaning possible. But no, just four English words that are familiar to all of us- Read, Pray, Trust, Obey.)
I want to close this meditation with one more paragraph from Joanie where she wrote – “As I began to incorporate these disciplines into my daily living, I found that it cultivated an intimate relationship with Christ, that developed confidence in Him. He began to prove His sufficiency to me at all levels, and as He continued to come through for me, I began to trust Him more and more. So, I began to find less and less reason for worry. I began to realize that whatever He led me to undertake, even if it were something that stretched me, He would come through for me.”
Obviously, there is so much more that could be written on this subject, but I wanted to share Joanie’s story with you so that you could see we can be overcomers when it comes to fear, worry, and anxiety – we can be like the Apostle Paul when he wrote in Philippians 4:13 (NIV) “I can do all this through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.”
Amen and Amen!