To feel anxious is a bit of an understatement when your world has been flipped upside down. When life as we know it comes to a screeching halt, it seems our natural reaction is to feel anxious. This COVID-19 crisis is certainly no exception. It’s not enough to feel anxious about getting the virus yourself but there are warnings that anyone could be a carrier and pass it along without even knowing it. Not to mention the economic halt that has shut down business, cost people their jobs, and tanked the retirement accounts. All of this would be bad enough but to top it off, our churches cannot meet due to government mandates for health and safety and there is no clear indication when this will lift. To say that this crisis is a breeding ground for anxiety is an understatement. Yet, when our world is flipped upside down, when we have lost our money or our jobs and are physically cut off from our community, the questions remains, is it possible to fight back against this overwhelming anxiousness? The answer is yes! Yes, we can fight back but to start with we need to put our faith into action. This means that we must take what we know of the Bible and about the Bible and put it into action, trusting that since this is the very Word of God, we can bank on what it says. By doing this, we can look at 3 ways to fight this anxiety.
1. Take Your Thoughts Captive.
To start with we need to take our thoughts captive. Peter puts says this well in 1 Peter 1:13.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The phrase “preparing your minds for action” comes from the Greek meaning to gird up the loins of your mind. Peter tells us to take our thoughts captive and be ready for action. Anxiety can have a crippling effect; it can easily control your thoughts where your thought life becomes unfiltered and the downward spiral quickly begins. You can begin to fight this by taking your thoughts captive and not letting them control you. Don’t let the worst-case scenarios cloud your judgement. Take a moment, pray your request to the Lord (Phil. 4:6-8) and then make a plan on how to proceed next. This is how you can be sober minded. Where you no longer try to fight the anxiety by anything other than Jesus. Why Jesus? As Peter says, we are to set our hope fully on Him! If we think back to Jesus, who loved us so much that He took our sin punishment and died for our sins on the cross, it helps to view what we are anxious about through this gospel perspective. If He loved us so much that He would die for us, can’t we then trust Him with whatever it is that is making us anxious? By taking our thoughts captive, we can begin to turn over our anxiety to Jesus and set our hope fully on Him and not of the things of this world. As we have seen the last few weeks, this world will fade away, but our Savior will not.
2. Saturate Your Heart in Jesus.
During this time of crisis there is a battle going on for your heart. This can get overlooked but it is the battle taking place right here and now. The Bible talks about the heart as the inner man, the core of who you are. The evil one wants to do what he can to fill your heart with anything that will pull you away from Jesus. He will even settle for a distraction of sorts, whatever it will take to pull you away from your Savior. This is why we need to fight to saturate our hearts in Jesus. What does it mean saturate our hearts? Well, think about it like this, if you take a towel and pour a tablespoon of water on it, you will see that part of it gets wet. Then you take the towel and set it in the sun for a few minutes and what happens? The towel becomes dry. Now, if you filled up your bathtub and took that towel and held it under water for about 30 seconds what would happen? The towel would become completely saturated. If you took that same towel outside in the sun and after a few minutes would it still be wet? Yes, because the towel is completely saturated. Our heart works the same way, we must saturate our heart in Jesus because if we don’t, we can quickly become dried out.
Hebrews 4:12 puts it like this,
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The best way we can saturate our hearts in Jesus is with the Word of God. God’s Word was written to be timeless and cuts through all the stress, fear, anxiety, tension and emotions and cuts to the heart. When our hearts are saturated in Jesus, it is much harder for the things of this world or the evil one to dry them out. This doesn’t always look like sitting down and reading the Bible. This can be listening to sermons or podcasts on your way to work or listening to good Christ centered worship songs that are filled with Scripture. This can even be calling a friend and talking about what you have been learning in your quiet time. All of these are simple ways that throughout the day we can work to have our hearts saturated in Jesus by filling it with His Word instead of the things of the world. By doing this, we take a huge step in fighting anxiety.
3. Fight for Community.
This part can easily get dropped off when life isn’t in crisis let alone in the middle of a quarantine. Being alone in the midst of a crisis is hard and can build on some of those anxious thoughts. This is why we must fight for community. Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
If you have ever watched any show about lions, you can quickly see how they hunt. The look for the one that is weak and alone and that is their target. Peter describes Satan the same way. He lurks around looking for the ones who are by themselves. This is why we must fight for community! We must come together as brothers and sisters in Christ to build each other up with the Word and encourage one another when the things of this life get you down. Being in community doesn’t mean that you won’t be attacked but it does mean that you are stronger as you are supported by your brothers and sisters in the faith who love you and want to point you to Jesus. In this time of crisis where we cannot be together in person, we must fight for community virtually. Praise God that we live in a time where technology can connect us now more than ever. Call a friend, FaceTime your small group, check in on your family members and fight really hard to stay in community. This is a crucial time when anxiety hits and we are being forced into quarantine that we must fight hard to maintain our community.
As I write this, I pray that this will be helpful to you as it has been for me. Not because I have mastered my anxious thoughts by any means but because I must remind myself of these truths every day. God is bigger than the COVID-19 virus and by His grace, has given us the tools we need to fight our anxieties.