We’re all holding our breath these days, waiting for the next shoe to drop in our national emergency.
Officials from the White House down to local city halls and public works warn of a pending disaster of gargantuan proportions lurking just around the corner. Entire cities have gone on lockdown as the deadly, viral contagion creeps across the land. We all hunker down for the unknown duration, everybody doing their part to stem the infection.
Eighty years ago the people of London faced the relentless German bombing campaign with steely resolve: “Keep calm and carry on.” But what do you do if the threat is invisible—not bombs from the sky, but a stealth invasion of invisible microbes? Dogged, individual determination won’t get you through this.
The Anxiety Curve
That’s the silver lining: never before has an entire populace been asked for such shared sacrifice. Never before have all our shared resources been marshaled to address a common threat. When we emerge from this—as we eventually shall—maybe our common “damnable addiction to individualism” will be shattered. What we cannot do alone we can do together. That’s a hard lesson to learn, and we’re learning it the hard way.
You’ve seen those charts of projected infections spiking up alarmingly. That’s why we’re refraining from normal human activity—so we can collectively “flatten the curve” of infections and stave off calamity.
Anxiety is also spiking everywhere. Let’s face it: what can we do to flatten that curve, too?
God of the Anxious
What we’re going through is enough to put the fear of God into you. And that’s a good thing, because God is always inviting us to fear, love, and trust in him alone above all else. Fear and love find their common ground in trust.
Trusting God above all else is not blind trust. We have a God who entered our frail human flesh to sacrifice his very life so that we might live. This enfleshed God now invites our trust. Before he emerged in risen glory he first endured the cross and grave: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.” Jesus knows exactly what he’s talking about as he quells our human fears and calms our anxious hearts:
I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!Matthew 6:25–30
God certainly has captured our attention in this national emergency. But I think he wants to teach us more than social interdependence. God is always inviting us to leave our fears behind and trust in him alone. That’s the only true antidote to anxiety.
This guest post was written by Harold L. Senkbeil, author of The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart (Lexham Press, 2019).