Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cope or transcend. . .

As school was starting (online, in person, or some combination of that), there were those who were concerned with how both students and teachers would cope with the anxiety or isolation or distance learning, or in person fears from the disruption in the wake of COVID 19.  The temptation is to intervene to either protect or defend folks from the dangers around us.  It is probably worth remembering that it is not possible to eliminate anxiety from our children or our adults. There is no way to insulate them from the things that threaten us.  But. . .we should help our children and adults to answer those anxieties on some level other than feelings. This is not about making folks feel better about the things that are troubling them but to place them in the context of what God has done and the fruits of His redeeming work.

Fear has its greatest power among those who are not anchored in the Word and promises of God.  Anxiety is the greater threat to those who are distant from the means of grace.  Worry is overcome not with explanations but with faith -- faith that trusts that God will do what He has promised to do, is where He has promised to be, and will not abandon us to whatever threatens us.  The problems that keep people awake at night and make them anxious during the day are faith problems and they require faith answers.  Whether you are talking about disruptions to education or fears of being with other people in other settings, these need to be addressed as faith problems and we need to respond to them with the resources that nourish and nurture faith -- the means of grace.

Frankly, I do not get why some allow their upsets or disputes to drive them from the means of grace.  It remains a curious truth that the very people who need what God gives in the Word and Sacraments are often the ones who remain distant from those means of grace.  If anything, the problems that toss around in our minds and fill our hearts with anxiety all night long find relief in the only one who can deliver eternity to us.  Christians do not have carefree and easy lives but we know where to go for the peace that passes understanding.  We admit that we cannot endure the storms and struggles of live on our own strength but we also confess that in Christ there is limitless strength for our weakness.

I am not sure any of us needs more coping mechanisms.  But I am quite positive that all of us need to know in whom we may transcend the prison of worry and the captivity of doubt that put all the stresses of our live under even more pressure.  We will eventually come to our breaking point.  But there is no breaking point for the Good Shepherd.  He abides in us even in the midst of all that would trouble our souls and speaks peace and tenderness to our fears and anxieties.  If you are having problems sleeping at night or coping with the world around you, go to Church -- not once to see if a miracle might happen but for three months, every Sunday, and pray the Our Father every day, several times a day, at home.  I have given this advice so often I cannot even recall how many times I have said it.  Very seldom does someone come back to me and say that same things are still keeping them away or causing them angst during their waking hours. 

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