My Mom has told me stories about my desire to wash my hands until they were raw because of germs. How I knew about germs, I am not sure, but I picked it up along the way. Also, I lived in a small town, and that smallness connects you with death because you are close to everyone. We had our fair share of deaths, and I was close to most who passed. Life circumstances and my innate fears seemed to whisper to me from the beginning. Worry became a companion on my journey.
In short, the prospect of death and its eventual imminence is something I think about, am cognizant of, and can worry about it (if I let myself) daily.
So, enter the Coronavirus now-- you can imagine my level of crazy on the inside. Oh my! I just got back from Disneyland a few weeks ago and wore gloves during the rides the entire time I was there. Yes, I was “that girl” because that was the only way I was able to get through it and enjoy myself and not make those around me miserable (at least, I hope)!
As this pandemic closes in around the world, our country, and me, I am saddened, horrified, and, often, terrified. All my fellow germaphobes are shouting out with me right now, and those who are anxious about such things understand my worry.
Yet, despite all this crazy found in me and around me, God has placed a joy in Him that never goes away either. This joy bubbles up and my face is smiling now even as I write it. Nehemiah said that “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” (8:10) and that is a testimony that I give. The delight I find in Him-- in worship, song, being His vessel where He calls me, in walking with Him—is truly breathtaking. When He whooshes through me with His Holy Fire, I am undone and able to stand breathlessly in Him.
In the midst of this see-sawing fear and joy is the battle for my faith over fear. I face it daily and sometimes minutely. I fight ferociously. Despite my many frailties and doubts, I cannot deny the One who has called me by name, made me His own by His blood. I love Him forever. Still, how that fleshes out is hard for those of us who struggle in the grip of fear. The difficulty of this battle is worth it, though.
This is how I fight.
First, I go to His Word. It is a daily source of renewal and adjustment. Often the lies from the world and the Evil One behind those filter through me throughout the day. When I reorient myself and my mind in the Word, I am pulled near, restored, corrected. There is no other washing that I need so much than that of the Word (Eph. 5:25). I also daily swim in the Psalms—I immerse myself in them as if they are my oxygen. For, as Jesus declared to the Evil One in Matt. 4:4, “… ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Second, I spend time alone with Jesus. Often, I visualize putting my worries in boxes and giving them to our Lord to handle. I, also, imagine myself being held by Him and crawling up in His lap because that is truly what I need from Him. Leaning into Him in these ways and through worship and the Word are so vital to my faith. Like David says in Ps. 27:4-5, may I just be in Your Presence, then I will be okay! (My translation!)
Third, I have sounding boards that are wise. I go to counseling regularly to process my life, and this helps me manage my anxiety. I have found it so helpful to process with someone else, to clarify, and to be present in this way. Not only that, I have relationships with my family, friends, and husband that keep me grounded. They provide perspective when I may be going a bit too far because of my fears.
Fourth, I am part of the Body of Christ. Though we cannot gather currently, the many years of gathering together still infuse my dry bones with life! And, the Body is not bound by the church’s walls, thankfully, and we are still finding ways to connect and walk through this together. I cannot tell you how much I love being a part of His Body! Drawing strength from one another, leaning on others’ shining faith when I’m faltering, coming together in our frailties at the Cross of Christ—it is a joy like no other.
Fifth, I look to the Gospel and the Cross. In these trying times of a new pandemic (my absolute worst germaphobe nightmare!), it has taken me a bit to reorient myself here. Because of my struggles, I have been in survival mode while taking this all in. I am slowly looking to His hand at work here and seeing where He is moving. I know He hates evil and the sadness of sickness, for Eden was our true home and to Eden we are headed again. But, even in the darkest of moments, He is near and is redeeming through it. I see Him when I see others praying, giving, carrying their crosses, and serving through these harrowing times. My hope is that many awaken to Him, too, for when we face evil, much is clarified for us—what really matters and what does not.
Sixth, I believe that God’s blood can cover my weaknesses. I fail often in so many areas, but in this one, I am an epic failure. I will never forget when I first read that worry was a sin! Yet, there is nothing like abject weakness to remind us of our need for a Savior. And, in this truth, I give myself grace. This world is hard for natures like mine—sometimes I feel as if I cannot handle the evil that exists here in my own soul and in the world. And, I know I am not alone-- if that is you, I see you and am with you in spirit. Yet, on the opposite side, some of you are just like, “We got this. God is big enough for this. I’m not afraid.” I LOVE that, but it is not what first comes to my mind at this moment even though I believe God is big enough, too. Yet, still, God has called me His own and will get me to say that over time, even if mine is a quiet whisper next to someone’s roar. Honestly, I have felt Him telling me that He knows what it costs me even to get there—our costly faith pleases Him as we take up our crosses even when we don’t want to. Jesus shares in Luke 9:23—“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” And, for my fearless friends, whatever their weakness, He knows what it costs them to have faith in other areas.
Lastly, I pray and reach out where I can. Prayer keeps me connected to my Abba Father, for without this connection, I will always falter. It also lets me love my neighbors so powerfully. Prayer is a work I can do for anyone at anytime; it is such a wonderful way to love someone tangibly. I also pray against the Evil One and that he would be stopped in his effort to hurt humanity, for he hates those who bear God’s image. We must battle him through prayer. Prayer is the most effective weapon we have in our fight for faith, for others, and against fear. Ephesians 6:12, 18—“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms….. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” May we be found on our knees more and more.
So, wherever you are on the worry/anxiety scale, I encourage you to fight with me in the struggle against fear and worry. It is okay to feel your feelings, but we must preach ourselves the Truth, too. God is faithful and will be with us. And, if you are reading this and are not a follower of Jesus, I invite you to follow Him today. Just believe. John 3:16—“ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If you became His disciple right now, please contact me anytime, and I will help as you move forward in faith.
Love and peace to you all from this weak, broken, needy, sinner sister who is strong, healed, upheld, and redeemed because of her Lord Jesus!