Ever since the you-know-what hit mere weeks ago, I have seen an escalation of anxiety in the world. The presence of a pandemic, coupled with social isolation, has served to heighten the anxiety of many people.
This has me thinking about fear, lament and faith. What exactly does it mean to have faith in a time of you-know-what?
First, here is what I think it does not mean:
1. Having faith does not mean we are never scared. Fear and anxiety and suspense are normal and healthy emotions. If having fear disqualified us from being Christians, there would be no Christians. I am no theologian, but of that I am sure.
2. Having faith does not inoculate us against problems. We will suffer terrible tragedies on this earth as a result of being part of it. It does not render our faith useless. If anything, sorrow and pain highlight our need for faith even more.
Sorrow and pain highlight our need for faith even more.
3. Having faith does not rule out the need to question things. There is nothing inherently wrong with having doubts and wonderings and questions. They are normal. Our faith determines who we turn to in asking those questions.
4. Having faith does not equal being 100% confident all the time. We lose confidence sometimes, in ourselves, in people we once trusted, in the government, in the health system, in the world around us. Faith means we are confident in God’s ability to hear our cry, not in our own ability to solve every problem.
Faith means we are confident in God’s ability to hear our cry.
I think faith is less of the I-am-a-tough-Christian-who-never-gets-down and more of the silent-whispered-prayer-for-help persuasion. I grew up with a lot of Tough Christianity. I have seen it fall apart spectacularly. I no longer equate toughness with following Jesus.
Following Jesus often means we don’t know where we are going.
Following Jesus means we don’t understand things.
Following Jesus means there are times we will weep, and argue, and get scared, and want to run away.
Following Jesus means there are times we will get scared and want to run away.
Just look at Jesus’ disciples.
And yet, when Jesus asked his followers if they wanted to leave him, they gave the most astounding answer.
‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68 NIV.)
Those words are echoed in my heart today. No matter what we are going through at the moment, no matter what the you-know-what takes from us or threatens to take from us, where else would we go?
Only Jesus gives us eternal life.
If we cling to him, it is not a sign of weakness. Rather, that is the mustard seed, the minuscule beginning of faith.
How is your anxiety at the moment? What helps you cling to God when life is falling apart? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.