Having faith that responds to anxiety |

Suggested Scripture(s): Matthew 6:25-34

This week’s thoughts begin with a conversation between Linus and Lucy – two of the characters featured in the late Charles Schultz’s comic strip, “Peanuts.” Linus is talking out his troubles to big sister Lucy about what things make him afraid, and as we pick up the conversation, we hear Lucy ask Linus:

Lucy: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are then you have Hypengyophobia.

Linus: I don’t think that’s quite it.

Lucy: How about cats? If you are afraid of cats you have Allurophobia.

Linus: Well, sort of, but I’m not sure.

Lucy: Or maybe you have Pantophobia. Do you think you have Pantophobia?

Linus: What’s Pantophobia?

Lucy: The fear of everything!

Linus: THAT’S IT!!

It seems that these days we can certainly agree with Linus. We have individual concerns and those for family and friends. Add to these the stresses of our nation’s economy, and fears once again about the possible outbreak of another major war that could send more negative ripples throughout the world on top of those from the ongoing pandemic that has entered its third year. These and other reasons we might have to frequently be afraid.

Most fears, be they individual, for someone else, or world conditions, come under one of the following categories: fate and death; emptiness or meaninglessness; guilt and condemnation; loneliness and isolation; or helplessness and incapacity to have control in our lives because of personal or world events.

These fears are certainly not new even though they can produce fresh anxieties. And yet it was Jesus who spoke to our anxieties and worries when he preached the Sermon on the Mount. In that famous Sermon, he tries to give us some very important assurances on which to hang our hope and destiny – especially in times of great fear or despair. It has to do with faith and a settled trust in God that even though the toughest of circumstances might be painfully slow to ever change, our lives still do not have to be totally robbed of their joy and meaning. For in Jesus Christ, we have revealed to us the face of our loving and caring heavenly Father:

  • who knows each of us individually by name;
  • who numbers the very hairs on our head;
  • who marks the fall of even the tiniest sparrow;
  • who in Jesus Christ died for our sin and guilt and fear that we might have eternal life and also meaning and purpose in our earthly lives here and now;
  • who does not leave us alone or without comfort and help – see also Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-3; Matthew 28:20; and John 14:16-18;
  • who promises that the power of the Holy Spirit who created all that exists and who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit who dwells in our hearts as believers – John 14:25-27.

These assurances as offered from God’s Word can be part of a disciple’s response to all of life’s anxieties and fears from death to wars/rumors of war, to daily health, physical and emotional needs. We have a heavenly Father who knows our every need. It was almost 21 years ago during a time of personal illness, surgery, and recovery due to cancer that one of the many cards I received had this blessing which still gives me great comfort; may the words do the same for all of us regardless of our own particular worries, fears, or burdens circumstances which may weigh upon us at any time:

May the hands that formed the earth touch your body and heal it.

May the breath that moved over the waters fill your soul with life.

May the heart that sacrificed to save you surround your heart with comfort.

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