As humans, it’s normal to feel anxious and afraid. In fact, one could argue that it would be extremely un-normal for anyone to not feel anxious during times like these. It’s nearly impossible to plan for anything a month from now, much less a week from now. Our heath, finances, and yes, even toilet paper, are not guaranteed. The things we are used to having some semblance of control over are no longer a given. Anxiety and worry feel like the new normal in this world.
In the midst of all of this though, the gospel has an answer for us . When we feel anxious, we don’t have to remain anxious. As we fix our thoughts and our hearts on Jesus, we can have peace and confidence that surpasses all worry. We know that nothing that is happening in this world is catching God by surprise. He’s not asleep at the wheel.
As we feel anxious, we can freely confess that emotion to God and let the truths of the gospel comfort us. Right now, we as a staff here at Miracle Camp are certainly anxious about our future. Our entire ministry is centered around helping people gather together – something we cannot do right now! This has many ramifications for us: fewer ministry opportunities, revenue loss, reducing staff wages, letting staff go, and the list goes on. So how exactly does the gospel address these anxieties? What does a gospel-centered response to anxiety even look like?
It starts with an honest confession of what is worrying us.
As we confess our anxieties, we are admitting that it is hard for us to see how God might have control over this situation. We are anxious because we are doubting if God will really provide for us in the way he promises. Does God really have a plan of hope and a future of prosperity for us? (Looking at you, Jeremiah 29:11). Maybe you’re thinking that at home too. We know we’re not the only ones who are affected by this. People all over the world are suffering as a result of this pandemic. In the reality of losing jobs, losing loved ones, and getting sick, it is hard to really trust that God is somehow at work in all of this.
At our worst, we blame God for not providing for us or being benevolent enough.
“If God was really all-good, he would have made it possible for these hundreds of men and women to attend Man Camps and Women’s Retreats. Besides, doesn’t he know how this will impact our ministry financially!?”
“If God was in control, then why did he let me lose my job? Doesn’t he care for my ability to feed my family or pay for our house?”
“If God is in control of everything why doesn’t he just eradicate the virus right now. Or at least make it possible for people and hospitals to get the supplies they need. He’s simply not providing for us like he promises.”
Maybe we’re not so bold as to actually say some of these things out loud. In fact, even reading them out loud kind of sounds silly. None of us who are secure in Christ would say that we actually believe these things to be true. But the way we live at times reflects that we do in fact trust in ourselves to provide for us more than we trust in God to provide.
How we live reveals what we believe about the gospel.
Here’s how this works. When we reflect on the gospel and the truths of Scripture, we remember that God has in fact already provided for us! While we were still sinners—God’s enemies and totally undeserving—God still sent his son as sacrifice (Romans 5:8). Just as he provided a sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac, he provided his Son in place of us. That is good news! Even if God never blesses me with another provision again in this life—which, thank goodness he does—he has already provided more than enough. This same God who receives blame for not providing a vaccine, toilet paper, or a job, is the same God who provided his one and only perfect Son. Simply put: he is still provider today.
And even more than all this, God has provided us with a future worth hoping in—one that’s even full of wealth and prosperity. He tells us all about it in the pages of Scripture. In the new world that God is preparing for those who love him, all of our prayers and deepest longings will totally be answered. So even if God doesn’t answer our prayers for wellbeing, health, and prosperity today, we know that he will answer them in the future. We eagerly long and wait for the day when there will no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:7). There is a day coming when anxiety will finally be no more. This is what gives us hope to persevere in faith today.