Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Don’t Let Anxiety Get the Better of You

Over the past fifteen months, we, as a species, faced a global pandemic in the form of Covid-19. This microscopic enemy, about one-billionth our size, caused an entire world to grind to a complete halt. People were told to quarantine and stay in their homes. Businesses shut down and many either worked from home or lost their jobs. Healthcare workers around the globe fought this virus tooth and nail to save lives. In some cases, those who contracted Covid-19 passed away. Each life lost was a tremendous blow to not only his or her family but also to those who worked so hard to try to save a life. Each day news reports gave us the daily tallies of those infected and those who had died. In time, we all either had a family member or friend pass away or knew of someone who was infected.

Fear gripped us each day. As we tried to go to the grocery stores to pick up what we needed, we all wore masks and tried to put distance between us. Stores reduced their hours and the number of people who could be in the stores. Anxiety filled our hearts and minds. We just didn’t know what to do.

One Saturday morning I was in one of the local big-box retails picking up groceries for the week. I was walking down one of the aisles when someone sneezed. There were about five other individuals in the same aisle. We all froze in our tracks. During this point in the pandemic, studies were coming out that said six feet was all that was needed while some recommended doubling or tripling that distance. None of us knew what to do. Do we call the fire department and have a hazmat team come out to disinfect the aisle, the food products and us? Rest assured, we didn’t call the fire department or immediately seek medical care. But, for one moment, the thoughts all crossed our minds.

Looking back at the situation, I, like many, found myself living daily with anxiety when I went out to do whatever I had to do. Life had to go on. I couldn’t exactly just dig a shelter in my yard and seal my family and myself in it until the pandemic ended. As each day passed, we slowly got used to dealing with Covid-19 and wearing our masks and trying to social distance as much as possible. Everyone I knew did their part to prevent the spread. But, there was always this lingering uneasiness in our minds.

With the vaccines out and being administered, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am not going to debate whether or not what we did was right or wrong. We all did our best to get through it and tried to maintain a level of normalcy in our lives.

As we see the numbers of infections and the mortality rate drop each day, we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank God that He got us through this. We pray for those who have lost loved ones and friends and for those who lost their jobs. But, as I reflect on all of this, I came away with some observations.

The first at the top of my list is anxiety. People reacted in all sorts of ways. I am not going to detail the actions of others. Each of us saw our own example of anxiety getting the better of us. It didn’t take much for us to walk around each day as if we were in a zombie movie and were among the last ones on the planet. We feared being around others. A sneeze or a cough would cause our heart rates to skyrocket and some would hold their last breath and try to distance themselves from that person. I will be honest. Yes. There were a few times when I felt that way when someone near me began to cough.

After a short period of time of experiencing terror over a sneeze or cough, I began to realize that I could only do so much. Just short of living the remainder of my life in a hermetically-sealed bubble suit, I had to live with the risk and remember that everything, including my life, is in God’s hands. 

The prophet, Isaiah, in chapter thirty-five of his book, writes, “With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’

The news that Isaiah was speaking about was hope and restoration. This can only come if we don’t let anxiety rule our lives. If we do, then we are saying to God that He is powerless over what we are facing. That is not what we should do. We should be strong and not walk around wringing our hands with fear, uncertainty and doubt clouding our minds and filling our hearts. We should know that God is there and has everything under control. He truly is coming to save each and every one of us.

I know that it is so easy to fall prey to fear and allow it to rule your life. I get it. I really do. I saw people wearing not only a respirator, but also a shower cap, goggles and a gown. When we allow anxiety to get the better part of us, we are saying to God that He can’t do anything for us and He is powerless against something that is part of the world He created. 

Paul, in chapter five of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, tells them and us, “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

We are to be patient with all those around us and also encouraging to those who are timid and allowing anxiety to take hold of them. We are to show our care and be compassionate to those who are fearful. Be an example to those around you by walking daily in your faith and sharing that faith with all those around you.

Remember we have all been there. We have all allowed anxiety to take hold of us and control our lives. So, be patient and care for those who are filled with fear. Encourage them by providing your wonderful story of faith. When you do all those things, you will not only help them with their faith but also strengthen your faith so that you can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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