“Anxious.” It’s a clumsy, awkward, uncomfortable word we use for an really unpleasant feeling.
So far, 2020 is proving to be one of the most uncomfortable years many of us have experienced. There are exceptions- people face horrible personal news all the time- but back on January 1st most of us were hoping for a good and happy New Year. Our whole society, and most of the planet, have been impacted by this hidden disease that may end up re-shaping the way many of us live.
All of us feel anxiety at some point. It’s unrealistic to tell ourselves or each other “Don’t worry.” If it were that simple, we wouldn’t be anxious! Serious anxiety may need assistance from health professionals, and no shame in admitting the need for help. Physical exercise, a good diet, and rest all offer a way forward. A lot of worry can be sorted with prosaic practicality! Counselling may help. Mindfulness practices can be very positive. Supportive friends and family matter a great deal. As a pastor, I would recommend all these avenues. Humans NEED hope for mental, emotional and spiritual health.
I’d like to go one step further back in diagnosis. We typically become anxious when we feel helpless, vulnerable, or unable to be in control of our lives and circumstances.
This is where faith comes in. Our deepest beliefs and values define our character and influence both attitudes and actions. How can faith help?
The prophet Isaiah wrote in turbulent times where life was often short and troubled by war, disease, and famine. His words of challenge to his generation combined warning with hope, and gave the nation a solid bedrock – even though current circumstances made them anxious, God had a plan up His sleeve! We can find hope here too- read this…
Isaiah 26:3 (New Living Translation)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
What is this “perfect peace” Isaiah speaks of? Essentially, this is the state of ultimate wellbeing: our intended existence of unbroken relationship with God and harmony with the world. What this means in practice is that when we are at peace with God, we will live in confident expectation that our present moment and our future are secure. Our past can be healed and forgiven. Whatever our circumstances might be, God is with us- and we are no longer slaves to fear.
Who or what is most precious to us? Where do we habitually focus? Those questions, it seems, directly affect the way we deal with anxiety.
Try looking at the photograph (sunrise over the sea) and read the words of Isaiah… meditate on them. May peace flow to you today.