“Let not your burden rest upon yourselves; for ye cannot bear it, and must finally perish beneath its weight. …But, confident and full of joy, cast it from you and throw it on God, and say: Heavenly Father, thou art my Lord and God, who didst create me when I was nothing; moreover hast redeemed me through thy Son. Now, thou hast committed to me and laid upon me, this office or work, and things do not go as well as I would like. There is so much to oppress and worry, that I can find neither counsel nor help. Therefore, I commend everything to thee. Do thou supply counsel and help, and be thou, thyself, everything in these things…. Let him who would be a Christian learn to believe this. Let him practice and exhibit faith in all his affairs, bodily and spiritual, in his doing and his suffering, his living and his dying. Let him banish cares and anxious thoughts. Courageous and cheerful, let him cast them aside; not into a corner, as some vainly think to do, for when burdens are permitted to conceal themselves in the heart they are not really put away. But let the Christian cast his heart and its anxieties upon God. God is strong to bear and he can easily carry the burden….. Besides, he has commanded that all this be put upon himself. The more thou layest upon him, the more pleasing it is to him. And he gives thee the promise that he will carry thy cares for thee, and all things else that concern thee. This is a grand promise, and a beautiful, golden saying….”
Martin Luther, “Third Sunday after Trinity (1 Peter 5:5–11),” in Luther’s Epistle Sermons: Trinity Sunday to Advent, trans. John Nicholas Lenker, vol. III, The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther (Minneapolis, MN: The Luther Press, 1909), 74.
This is a unique time in history. Never before has the entire world experienced mass quarantine and required social distancing. I’m not here to discuss the plethora of discussions concerning the legitimacy of Covid-19’s severity or the origins of the virus, rather, regardless of the answers to these pressing issues (and they should be analyzed) I would like to discuss the rising anxiety in the populace. While talking to people over social media, I am hearing repeatedly about how much higher their anxiety levels are. Some of my friends have lost their only means of income and live week to week. They truly don’t know if they will be homeless before the month is out. Other friends are concerned about the economic crisis falling down before our eyes as more and more businesses are forced to close.
Then there are a number of friends who are concerned about catching the virus and surviving to see the end of this depression. What is most troubling, however, is the vast amounts of poor advice being administered. One friend said what she is hearing most from preachers is “just don’t worry” or “you should pray more” and “you wouldn’t be struggling with anxiety if you just had more faith.” Giving quip advice like this is not helpful. In fact, it is extremely harmful. This sort of advice, regardless of how well-meaning it is administered, only seems to feed the anxiety and brings with it feelings of failure and guilt.
Obviously, prayer and faith in God are important. But having faith is not equated with being so happy you do cartwheels while the world burns. It doesn’t mean that you no longer have any concerns. Having faith is taking ahold of the truth of God and holding it close to your heart, knowing that it is true for you.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
“But each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7
Having faith in God is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God cares for you and is strong enough to carry you through this. Just because life gets unbearably difficult doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you or that He isn’t in COMPLETE control of each and everything that happens. Regardless of what that looks like – even if it means you get sick, even if it means you end up homeless. God is still God. He is still perfectly sovereign over what is happening in our life. And we can KNOW that He is allowing it for our sanctification and His glory. We can rest our soul knowing that He will provide just the right amount of grace for us to make it through the day. Having faith also means that we know that we are well beyond our ability to handle this burden, that we CANNOT do it on our own – and knowing that God will give us the grace supernaturally to bear it, even when we still feel a little scared.
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for mothering, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:5-9
So what do we do when suffocating anxiety wraps its hands around our throats? Yes, we should pray. It is imperative that we know that He hears us and is concerned with every aspect of our life. He wants us to bring our burdens to Him. But as David prayed in the Psalms, we need to not only dump our emotional burdens but we need to also pick up and cling to what is true. And to know what is true, we have to study scripture. The more we saturate our minds with what is TRUE the more we will be able to rest in Him and have peace in our hearts.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
To learn more about how to rightly view tragedy and suffering, please read this: https://strivingforeternity.org/am-i-ready-for-my-last-day-a-biblical-theology-of-suffering/