We are living in a strange time. We look at our lives pre-Covid and it would seem that, that part of our lives was a dream. However, for some, the opposite is truer: those moments were real, and now, they are living as if with brain fog. Either way, the pandemic has had a great impact on all our lives, either directly or indirectly. This has not only caused the anxiety and worry that most experience but also heightens what uncertainties they already had to begin with. We not only fear another virus, but there are also current wars, and rumors of wars; social and economic instability; sexual revolutions, and even catastrophic events happening all over the world. These and other things keep us on our toes thinking when it will hit home.
But some things that add to our anxieties and weariness do already hit home. Fathers, trying to do the best of their abilities to provide for their family. Mothers, juggling to keep the household in order with kids running around. And yet, we also see either switching or doing both roles. Hiding in their rooms, students try to live their daily lives feeling the pressure from their studies, their peers and even to the culture, to conform with the current norms. Employers and employees both struggling to keep up with the stress in the workplace, trying to catch up with deadlines and finishing assigned tasks. Both young and old, feeling the frailty of their bodies as they battle with health issues in various forms: mental, physical, and even emotional. We see ourselves in these pictures one way or another: anxious, weary, exhausted and burdened.
But wait… there’s more!
It would be tragic to consider the cause of our anxieties and weariness outside of us and yet fail to consider the root cause inside us: that is sin. John Calvin said, “Unbelief is the mother of anxiety.” This hits home. But in reality, much deeper, as it hits our souls and convicts us. As we are being guilty of being anxious occasionally, we are all then guilty of the sin of unbelief. Why is this? For the simple reason that we want to be in control. We are restless and disappointed if things don’t go our way or even if things seem out of our hands. This tends to become dangerously idolatrous because we then want to be ‘god’ of our own lives, to be sovereign of our own existence. To regulate the outcome of our decisions having the myth of control.
As Christians, we already know better. God is sovereign over all: past, present and future. But with all these things around and in us – and compounded, seem to make our worship distracted, wearisome, rushed and even inauthentic.
How then should we move forward?
The remedy to this is to look past. Not simply past our circumstances, in a stoic, apathetic manner where we just surrender to our distressing situations. Not even to the pre- pandemic times, thinking those where the glory days of our lives where we didn’t have many things to worry about. But to look to a person – and his work; with whom we can find rest for our troubled souls: to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
Some might say this is too simplistic and we have heard this exhortation too often. But this is the reason we need to hear and heed once again. For in times when anxiety is on our doorstep, we forget. And at times when we are burdened with all our tasks and are exhausted, we neglect. We may do it intentionally or not; the problem remains that we lose focus on what is more important for us and for the others whom we love.
Resting in Christ is not inactivity; rather it is a constant, intentional dependence that we are safe in his hands. We must be reminded frequently that God is in control, and we are not (Proverbs 16:9). If only we take this truth to heart, we will come to understand it is as truly liberating. It frees us to trust in God, and his loving hands are ultimately in control of our circumstances rather than our own. (Psalm 31:15).
More importantly, we are reminded of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:25-34 to not be anxious because we are beloved by the Father. Also, a quick survey of the Holy Scriptures will make us see that it is replete with counsels not to worry and not to fear for this is how we are prone to be. So as the Holy Spirit leads us and reminds us of this truth, let us resolve, both individually and corporately as a church, to encourage one another, to trust and obey him, to surrender; for it is for our own good (Romans 8:28), and ultimately for His glory. It will then be our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1) amid our trying circumstances, in that we come to Christ to find rest for our anxious and weary souls (Matthew 11:28-30), and together we may pray the words our Lord taught us: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:10).