(Today’s topic requires more than one entry. First some observations about the matter of anxiety, and next time an exploration of what might be useful embedded in what appears to be a problem.)
You’ve probably noticed the recent flurry of my anxiety-related thoughts. You deserve an explanation and perhaps some encouragement if this phenomenon is digging at the foundations of your well-being.
First, let me be honest about the source of my apprehension over the past few years. Without naming names, let’s just say that the root of my ongoing stress is the Occupant of the White House. And without getting lost in political mazes, let’s just say that he embodies the opposite of most of what I believe is godly or Christ-like. The spores of his moldy ethics spread into too many areas of society.
It would be easy to blame our Chief Executive as the primary source for the gut-wrenching that lives inside me too many days. The exploits, emissions and explosions of this man seem to come at me at every turn of the dial, on every page of whatever I choose to read and with every remark of commentators. Frenzied partisans—pro and con—broadcast emotions of fear, anger and frustration at almost any moment in the day. Even pleasant conversations with friends inevitably turn to the topics that this man injects into society.
Another possibility has come to mind lately, though: That this anxiety of mine might be more of a spiritual problem than I’m admitting. That after years of living under the protection of mostly righteous leaders and comparative calm, I have actually trusted those lifestyle elements more than I’ve trusted the God who created all of life. That I’m facing a crisis of faith embedded in the simple, First Commandment question, “Who’s your God, hmm?”
These days may be a test of faith like those faced by the people of God for centuries. The Old Testament’s later years are filled with stories of selfish, ungodly kings whose successive rules lasted for decades. At the time of Jesus, the Jews had lived for over fifty years under the thumb of the Roman emperors, another oppressive and immoral political force. Over and over again, prophets and other spiritual leaders in the Bible anguished about ongoing evil and egoism—pleading “How long, Oh Lord, how long?”
Somehow, though, these spiritual mothers and fathers held onto their faith in Yahweh, persisted against wickedness and waited fiercely to be rescued. That’s what peeks through their anguish and anger, showing their enduring witness to God’s power. Some may have given up or caved in to the status quo, but what we read all these centuries later points to the most enduring truth, one they fiercely believed: By God, this will not last!
I take heart from their witness, knowing that what they faced was undoubtedly much worse than what’s occurring in our country now. Their stories help me identify the places in my spirit where the Spirit still equips and encourages me. And I can take heart that they prevailed.
I hope you’re finding your own way around or out of any emotional quagmires you’re stuck in. Because we’re God’s people and Christ’s followers, you and I share the conviction that “goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death.”
And as Archbishop Desmond Tutu finished that beautiful hymn, “Victory is ours, through God who loves us.”
That’s the first part of my full disclosure, too!
(Next: What might be useful about anxiety.)