Casting Our Cares

If there’s one thing I have noticed over the past few weeks during the COVID-19 crisis, it is that most people are anxious. It may be the uncertainty of the future, the apocalyptic predictions, or just trying to figure out who we should be listening to at a time like this. Or maybe it’s the lack of toilet paper. And I think many have watched a few too many episodes of The Walking Dead. 

Even those who don’t really fear catching the virus themselves are concerned that friends and family members who are at risk may soon be in harm’s way if the pandemic spreads. Others are more anxious about what the shutdown is doing to the economy, seeing their 401K evaporate before their eyes, and worrying how they are going to pay the bills without a steady income. And for that matter, many are wondering if they will still even have a job when all this is over.

Others still are stressed by what to do with their children who are out of school indefinitely. For all of us, the upheaval of our schedules and the radical changes to our normal routines has been stressful, even if our greatest sacrifice is that we are being asked to sit at home on our couch and watch television for a couple of weeks.

And, of course, there’s the required “social distancing” that disconnects us from so many relationships, and the cancellation of public gatherings that has impacted our church family life. For some, that’s not that big of a deal; for others, it means a traumatic absence of community, and missing the most anticipated and most enjoyed parts of our week.
I remember a Charlie Brown quote from the Peanuts comic strip from years ago. It went something like this: “I don’t mind change, I just don’t like it when things are different.” 

And things are very different. Change is hard. Being pushed from your comfort zone and having your daily routines interrupted can be overwhelming.

I think one of the reasons we are feeling the burden is a mixed-up view of life that many of us have, that we are losing control. The reality is, we never really were in control to begin with. It takes a lot of pride to somehow think you have the power to run the world, even if it’s your own little corner of it. And yet, most of us are under that illusion.

I read a tweet last week from one of my favorite pro athletes–and men of God–Ben Watson: “From the tragic loss of Kobe to the pandemic of Corona, 2020 seems to be reminding me that I am not omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent. In fact, I have little control over life itself. Even the air I breathe is not mine. There is but one sovereign and we are not Him.”

That’s a pretty good perspective, one that most of us have to learn the hard way. And I think the answer to our stress and worry is a proper understanding of our place, a “fear of the Lord” if you will. Or put more simply, it is to lay down our pride–however it may be manifested–and embrace godly humility.

Here’s how 1 Peter 5 says it: “…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (vs. 5-7)

Humility is not thinking that you are a lowly worm, with no value. It is understanding your place before God–living “under God’s mighty hand”–and recognizing ultimately that He is God, and you are not. There is something comforting about coming to the realization that we don’t have to run the world, that we can resign our position as masters of the universe, and let Him handle it. And we do that by casting our cares and our anxieties on Him, knowing that He cares for us.

So you don’t have to have all the answers for this pandemic, and you don’t have to know what’s around the corner. You don’t even have to be right about which “side” you are on–the deniers or the exaggerators. It really doesn’t matter. Just exhale, rest your soul a bit, and place your faith in the One who has it all under control, even if you don’t understand it.
 
Or, put another way, “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)

These are certainly crazy times. I will miss seeing you on Sunday, but I do hope you can log on and tune in to our live-stream worship service on Facebook Live, at 10:30 a.m.. If you aren’t on Facebook, perhaps you can maybe use someone else’s account to participate, so we can all be together even when we are apart. Either way, please pray for God’s continued work in His church, wherever we are this week.

Nan and I love you, and we pray God’s protection and His blessings for each of you. I’m sure glad we’re in this thing together.

–Pastor Ken