MARCH 18, 2020

Faithfulness in the Midst of Fear and Anxiety

By Pastor Dennis Yim

 

Old Testament Passage: Lamentations 3:31-33


31 For no one is abandoned
            by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion


            because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
            or causing them sorrow. (NLT)

 

New Testament Passage: Matthew 8:23-27


23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.


27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (NLT)

 


Fear and Anxiety in the Midst of Uncertainty


It’s easy to say, “Don’t be fearful or anxious.” But do we actually mean it? Or do try to run from our fears and anxieties by saying clichés that don’t have much substance at all? I ask myself that a lot. Do these words hold much weight in times of uncertainty like these? No matter how many times I say it to myself, I find myself staring at the face of my own fears and anxieties. There’s a well-known story in the Gospels where the disciples of Christ are caught in a chaotic storm and are forced to face their ultimate fears and anxiety (Matthew 8:23-27). They faced an uncontrollable, untenable, and powerful force. They feared for their lives; their anxieties were at an all-time high. Some of the disciples were advanced fishermen, so they had proficient skills of the sea: they had acute judgment and decision-making skills, operation and control, instructing and teaching, effective communication, critical thinking, oral expression and comprehension, problem sensitivity, and deductive reasoning and among other things. Yet, none of it mattered. None of their experiences made a difference. They couldn’t deal with the real possibility of death, never being reunited with families and friends, being lost in the abyss of the sea and to never be found.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all this chaos, there’s Jesus, fast asleep, not bothered whatsoever. Jesus’s disposition towards this circumstance was completely the opposite of His disciples. He’s not panicking, He’s not filled with fear and anxiety for He’s not worried about the prospect of death and being lost in the vast depth of the sea. He’s asleep and resting in the midst of the chaotic sea of fear and anxiety. While the disciples are losing their minds, Jesus was perfectly calm and had no reason to be fearful nor anxious. The disciples had no control over the situation, which I think many of us might admit is one of the roots of our own fear and anxiety. The reality of not having control led the disciples to the prospect of death, which caused them to lose all sanity and probably some sense of being human – our fears and anxiety can at times dehumanize us. However, in the midst of their fearful and anxious state they did the right thing; they turned to Jesus and woke Him up. Jesus’ response was powerful: “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” The disciples forgot who was in their midst! The all-powerful, cosmic King of all creation was sleeping besides them, He was not fearful because He was in complete control even when everything else seemed to be in utter chaos.

How many times have you allowed your fears and anxieties to overwhelm you because you have lost your sense of control and self-autonomy? How many times have you forgotten that Jesus Christ, your King and Protector, was right by your side, acknowledging what’s going on around you? Why are you afraid? Really ask that question to yourself, why are you so afraid? What is it exactly? What is the very thing that you fear and gives you anxiety that you cannot help but feel hopeless and overwhelmed?



The Faithfulness of God in the Midst of our Fear and Anxiety


Lamentations 3:31-33 reminds us that whatever uncertainty God’s people are confronted with, He will always be there.  God will remain faithful to us. Why? Because He is faithful. He won’t abandon us, rather He will show us His compassion and His great unfailing love. God has done this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing, cosmic Ruler and King. So, He calls us to place our trust and allegiance in Him. But as we place our faith in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of our fears and anxieties will instantaneously disappear and fade into the night. No, rather read these words carefully from Dr. Ed Welch: “Faith in Jesus will not replace your fears. Instead, your faith will coexist with your fears and begin to quiet them.

 


Reflection and Prayer


Take this time to talk about your fears and anxieties with your family or friends. Take the time to pray over them. Ask the Lord to reveal what you ultimately fear and what brings you great anxiety. Ask the Lord Jesus to quiet your fears and anxieties with His promises and everlasting and faithful love.

 


Communal Prayer:


Almighty God, who sees that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.