These are challenging, uncomfortable, crazy, uncertain and, I’m sure for many, anxious, fearful and perplexing times. The question is this – how to deal with fear and anxiety?
None of us have been through this before. How do we respond?
Can I say – it’s ok to feel a little anxious, fearful and concerned. It’s only natural.
We are all sailing in un-chartered waters during this pandemic.
HOW DOES GOD WANT US TO DEAL WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY?
Psalm 46 is one of my favourite Psalms:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalms 46:1-11)
This Psalm was written during the reign of King Jehoshaphat when Israel’s enemies, Moab, Ammon, and Edom came against Israel. God supernaturally intervened to fight on Israel’s behalf in a time of deep trouble and distress (2 Chronicles 20:1-30) and this psalm encourages us to hope and trust in God during the darkest of days, and to take comfort in God when things look very bleak and threatening.
Three suggestions I would make to help us know how to deal with fear and anxiety during this season:
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
These words have kept me going this past week. I must admit the last week has been a massive challenge!
Pastoring a church (and a nursery) in a pandemic was something they never trained us for at Bible college! Completely new territory!
- So much to think through and workout
- So much and so many to reorganise
- Making sure everyone is cared for and knows what’s happening
And all this in a context that is changing every day! To add to this, like so many others – I have my own wife, children, grandchildren and soon to be born grandson to be concerned for. I’m sure you’ve been the same – having a head full of stuff whilst adapting to a new way of living. Like us – having to buy food and loo rolls all mixed in with ongoing concerns about family members, money, job, schooling, holiday plans, future, etc.
These are difficult days….
Everything is changing! We had a world first in our house last Sunday afternoon – I actually asked Julia what she wanted to watch on TV!
I can’t believe there will be no live football until May at the earliest!
It’s hard to switch off from it all and in the midst of this, God says; “Be still….”
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”” (Psalm 46:8-10 MSG) Above even coronavirus!!!
Can I encourage you to find a place to step out of the traffic to pause, breath and be still.
Find a chair, a log in a field, a park bench, take a bath – to pause, let go of all the stress, fear and anxiety and breath and take a long, loving look at God.
To focus on Him. He is our refuge and strength. A safe place to hide.
Remember – “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalms 46:7)
This is declared twice in this psalm either side of ‘Be still’
BE JOYFUL AND THANKFUL!
I love some of the recent amusing pictures & videos on social media.
Thank God that our world has a sense of humour and particularly in a time of crisis. I saw this post recently:
‘It was quiet morning in September 2053 when John awoke with a need to go to the bathroom. To John this wasn’t any ordinary day. This was the day he would open the last package of toilet paper his parents bought in the year 2020.”
I’ve made a decision to be joyful and thankful for all I have!
Paul’s letter sums it up:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
In fact Paul also said;
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Can I suggest that one of the best ways of dealing with fear and anxiety is that you minimise your watching of 24 hour news (especially in front of your children/teenagers) and be thankful.
Do not dwell on the fear and anxiety creating news – remember that their job is to provide news and often this leads to shall we say ‘creative headlines’ and on occasion fear-mongering. They have an audience to provide for and advertisers to appease.
Check out my article on “Fake News” here.
Rather, pause for a moment and consider what you can be thankful for.
We have so much we can be thankful for and let’s also create moments of joy and laughter in our homes.
Let’s choose to maintain with God’s help a positive, joyful, thankful attitude….and of course let’s not forget to pray.
I’ve written post on this entitled, ‘Don’t worry pray!’
There are many people around us who are finding the current pandemic a massive challenge. They simply do not know how to deal with fear and anxiety;
- Individuals feeling isolated, alone, fearful, anxious, unwell and needing perhaps provisions, support, care or someone to talk to…
- Parents wondering how enough they will cope with the children being at home for week – how they will educate and entertain? There are only so many board games and Twister like games that you can play!
- People whose whole livelihoods are at stake. Waiters, taxi drivers, bar staff, sub contractors, marketing, estate agents, retail, events, sports, airline staff, hoteliers…. the list just goes on. Our hearts go out to you.
- Businesses in our neighbourhoods that are struggling, having been forced to close or having lost all custom.
- Key workers particularly in the health and care sector that are being stretched beyond their ability to endure who need our support, care and encouragement.
Some of these guys are part of our church families and others are neighbours, friends, local shopkeepers, business people, sub contractors etc.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Let us be people who are aware and are looking to the interested of others more than our own.
Let’s make sure that we all play our part in caring, supporting and encouraging one another, helping the elderly, housebound, lonely, vulnerable and those struggling to make ends meet.
Question – What can you do to let the people around you know that you care?
Bake a cake!
My wife Julia is an amazing cake maker! She has recently baked cakes for all our neighbours but has also collected medicines, driven people to appointments, taken flowers and done shopping. She even took cake to her hairdresser who was really anxious about her livelihood. The hairdresser has been so grateful for this simple, thoughtful act of kindness.
God has positioned us as His people to care, encourage, strengthen and support others.
Our role right now is to;
“to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Who does God want you to reach out to in your world?
Who does God want you to bring hope, grace, mercy, encouragement, comfort and care?
Let’s be aware!
Someone tweeted this during the week;
“I’ve just adopted an 84yr old woman called Jackie from the Co-0p. She was looking bewildered and I asked if she was ok. Turns out she’s all by herself, her family all live in Holland and she lives around the corner from me. We’ve decided to be Coronavirus Buddies…”
Brilliant – guys – let’s keep an eye out for the Jackie’s in our community. Let’s become someone’s coronavirus buddy!
Let’s keep our spiritual and natural eyes open
Let’s allow our days to be interrupted by the needs of others.
Let’s help others to deal with their fear and anxiety.
Let’s Be the church!
So in the days ahead….can I encourage you
- Be still and know…
- Be joyful and thankful
- Be aware of the needs of others and help them as they deal with their own fears and anxiety
Let me conclude by declaring this….
“God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-Angel-Armies protects us.” (Psalm 46:1-3 MSG)
I’m praying for you as I right that you will know God’s incredible peace at this time and that you will find time to be still, that you will be joyful, thankful and aware of others especially those who need some encouragement, support and care.
If you’ve enjoyed this post you might like to check out my book entitled ‘Imagine.’ It is all about trusting God based on the amazing promise in Proverbs 3:5-6. It also further addresses how to deal with fear and anxiety. I’ve shared from my own experiences and personal journey the lessons that I’ve learned about trusting God. It has truly been an amazing journey of discovery of trusting God like never before and living like never before!
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Recent Amazon reviewers said,
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“Imagine is a brilliant read and it is challenging too. Using Proverbs 3:5-6 as the central scripture and Simon Lawton’s personal journey, the important issues of trust and faith are discussed in depth. It’s easy to read, enjoyable and has really helped me think long and hard about God’s calling for my life and how I can trust Him with so much more. Well worth reading, whether you are exploring or are new to the Christian faith, or if you have been a Christian for years – there’s something in this book for everyone. Highly recommended.”
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