This week and next, we are going to dive into two topics:
- How to combat worry and overwhelm we face
- How we can care for pastors during this time
September is Suicide Awareness Month, and mental health is near and dear to my heart. While watching football games this month, I counted multiple Veteran’s Administration ads reminding folks there are alternatives to suicide.
A mental health crisis exists now more than ever. We think it is isolated to the homeless or those that find themselves in rooms lined with padded walls.
However, the pandemic has exposed fears that lie deep within us but may not have been verbalized.
- Fears of the unknown
- Fears that I won’t be able to provide for my family
- Fears of losing my home and living in my car or on the street
- Fears of not having food for my table
- Fears of what’s next
- Fear of the virus itself
Our fears are real. Whether you are a believer or not, our fears can be debilitating sometimes. I have felt them, and I don’t want you to have to experience them.
The pandemic has brought on underlying stress and anxiety that never seems to depart from us. Experts state that a form of post-traumatic stress disorder or syndrome will be with us for years to come due to the pandemic.
God never intended us to live this way. He loves so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins and take away the pain we feel.
As a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we have been cursed, and the only hope we have is Jesus.
This week, we will focus on how we can combat worry and overwhelm in our lives, but next week, I plan to explore how we can support our pastors, leaders, and care teams as they walk through the dark valleys with each of us. These men and women are often overlooked – and for some, this has been the toughest experience they have encountered in their ministry.
I want to encourage you to pray for your pastors, leaders, care team, and shepherds of your communities as they work tirelessly to serve their communities.
How Can We Combat Worry and Overwhelm
Paul shares in Philippians 4:6-7,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Scripture says to “not worry about anything,” but the world is screaming everything we should be worried about. What do I do?
It starts with a simple conversation. Paul says to “pray about everything.” What if I don’t believe in prayer?
Write it down. Put your thoughts to paper – journal it, then shred it as a way to release it. Personally, the best way to reduce my anxiety is to confess it to the Lord, but I recognize that not everyone believes in God or prayer.
What would it take for you to believe in God?
For the past year, I have been participating in a community that walks us through what it means to live a focused life.
I continue to explore what that means for me, my future, and my family. I share questions I am working through with other small group members, and we challenge each other to make better decisions during the week.
I recently watched a documentary on Antarctica. Antarctica is on my someday goal list to visit. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, summertime is rapidly approaching when most of the research and work happens.
For a period of time, the sun never dips below the horizon line providing 24 hours of light. However, the cold is bitter when winter arrives, and the darkness reigns with little to no light except for one of God’s beautiful reminders.
The southern lights.
The dance across the sky with beautiful colors reminds us there is a creator. He shows us daily the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, the night sky filled with the trillions of stars that we cannot comprehend.
I remember reading a passage in the book of Genesis where the Lord and Abraham are discussing his future family. The Lord says, count the stars in the sky; how many descendants will be in your family.
Last night, the sky was clear, and you could count the brightest stars. I imagine Abraham looking up, trying to count the stars, and giving up because they outnumbered his comprehension.
When overwhelm and anxiety begins to trickle into our thoughts, you can remind yourself that God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in it, and that includes you.
You are precious. You are God’s workmanship. You were created with a purpose. You are a blessing.
When you look at the night sky, every star is unique, just like you. There is no other person in this history of the world exactly like you. There are seven billion people in the world today, and there is no carbon copy of you.
You were made with love, crafted by a Heavenly Creator who knows your name, how many hairs are on your head (or lack thereof), how many grains of sand make up the Sahara Desert, and the list goes on.
If He knows all these things, He certainly can help weather the storms of today.
The answer to our fears and anxiety is Jesus. You might believe in Jesus, or you might not. The nudging of our hearts towards Him has been building up inside of each one of us.
Take a few minutes to listen to what your heart is saying. When you feel overwhelmed, worried, or feel like it can’t get better – ask God to show you who He is and why you matter.
I am not naive to think that it will include a happy ending every time we ask, but God wants all of his creations to come to know Him and live in eternity with Him. However, the choice is up to each one of us.
Let the words of Paul wash over you today.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Lord, thank you for your peace that passes all understanding. Thank you for showing us how not to worry or be overwhelmed. When we are at our lowest moment, please encourage our souls. Lord, please give the Church wisdom to meet the needs of the hurting and weary. Please give strength to our pastors, their families, our shepherds, and our leaders, including our government leaders, and help them make wise decisions. Thank you for your grace and mercy in our lives. Amen!
- Antarctica: A Year On Ice – Anthony Powell (Documentary)
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