Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
For some people, anxiety is a chronic illness which paralyzes them emotionally and exhausts them physically. They struggle with everyday tasks and try their utmost to combat feelings of unworthiness and insecurity which riddle their thoughts and trample their hearts. When they try to express what they are enduring, other folks don't understand and say trite things like "Don't worry about it. You'll get over it. You can do this." Instead of helping, it only makes anxiety-sufferers feel worse; instead of healing them, it hinders their well-being.
Living under the threat of a pandemic has perhaps given many of us a better understanding of what anxious people experience every single day. We feel lost with no clear sense of direction. We fear that the worst will happen, and some of our dreams at night have become pandemic nightmares. We don't feel empowered or in control anymore because this crisis is way bigger than anything that we have ever encountered. We feel inadequate and don't know when or how this will end. We are experiencing anxiety, and those who know this feeling every day can now say to us, "Welcome to my world."
Today's Bible verses from Paul may give some hope and reassurance to most of us. We can take these words and find the right amount of encouragement that we need in order to endure. When all of this is over, we may be in a position to thank God for an end to our dilemma, but our family members and friends who have chronic anxiety may not feel the same way.
Perhaps, then, if we use this time of pandemic as a life-teaching moment, we will be more empathetic to our loved ones who go through this kind of anxiety each day. Instead of saying trite words to make ourselves feel better, perhaps just a sympathetic nod, a listening ear, and a more patient heart may offer some real support to them in the future.
Questions for reflection: What have I learned about anxiety during this uncertain time? How may I use this to help others?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, these are times that try our souls and weary our spirits. We are deeply worried about the future and very concerned about what is yet to come. Help us to reflect on our present anxiety, and teach us to become aware that this feeling of dread is what others among us experience every day. Bless them with the strength to endure, and enable us to give them the empathetic support that they really need. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.
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