It’s okay to admit that this is a scary time in America. And this is not the first scary time either. The illness and its consequences loom large on our radar, as it must and should.
I, for one, am a bit weary of us preacher types telling others, “Don’t worry!”, and then marshaling a number of arguments to prove that worry is evil. And we come away from the sermon with something else to worry about. Now we are worried about worrying!
I am aware of Bible passages where, for instance, an angel would tell someone, “Fear not!”, or where Jesus or Paul said, “Don’t be anxious!” But I’m wondering if we who give blanket application to such exhortations might need to consider the larger Bible context. Would you say Jesus was anxious over Jerusalem as He stood on the hill looking over the ancient city weeping because of their self-imposed alienation from God?
Wouldn’t you say He was concerned (anxious or even worried) in the garden the night He was betrayed, especially as He cried “strong tears” and His sweat became as great drops of blood? Do you think it would have been appropriate for one of us preachers (had we been there) to walk over to Him and advise Him that He shouldn’t worry?!!! Come on now! And Paul, who wrote to the Phillippian church that they should “not be anxious about anything” (4:6), also said this, “there is that which presses upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:30). Paul also experienced weakness, fear and trembling (1 Cor 2:3).
I remember a preacher (look, I’m not mad at preachers...I am one) who said at a funeral, “This is not a time for weeping.” Really! Tell that to Jesus at Lazarus’ graveside (John 11:35).
Look, God made us with emotions and reflexes. If we get scared it often invokes the fight or flight reflex (as others have said)...or some other response. If we are sad enough we don’t have room in our hearts (at such a time) for silliness or laughter or certain other normal pursuits.
God knows all about this very human truth. He made us! If my child is facing serious surgery tomorrow, I can tell you who is not going to get a good night’s sleep. Me! I am worried about how things will turn out. Does God view me as sinning in such a time? Well, I certainly don’t think so.
See if this makes sense to you. Maybe the Biblical instruction against “worry,” “anxiety,” or “concern” (I don’t really think it matters which word is used) has to do with what we allow that feeling to lead to. If our worry leads us to an unfaithful response to God, then it has gone too far. We have sinned. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul tells the church (regarding their dead loved ones) that they should not sorrow like people without hope. Sorrow? Yes! Sorrow as though you don’t have God in heaven? No! A thousand times, “NO!”
So, if you are concerned about conditions in our country right now...if you have some anxiety over this...if you have some worry about it...I would suggest that your God-given emotions are in working order. But if your concerns have completely taken over your rationality and led you to the “chicken little” response where one runs around uselessly repeating over and over that the sky is falling, then I would advise you to run to God. Check out Who He really is. And commit your way to Him. Have a read of the second chapter of Acts! You will find it useful.
Let’s keep praying for our fellow citizens, our families and let’s keep taking every precaution we can. “Father God, please look upon this world of ours and do what is needed according to your will. and help us be part of the solution.” Amen
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ Zanesville; email: firstname.lastname@example.org