3 Things to Remember In Times of Anxiety
by Jeff Ballard
In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp writes, “Whenever I forget, fear walks in. We’re called to be a people known by our remembering — a remembering people.” This is true in more typical seasons and during times of anxiety. It is especially true in the midst of the extraordinary season of a viral pandemic in which we are living. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that fear is banging at the door and calling out us to fix our minds on the turbulent waters all around us.
I want to call us to be a remembering people so that we can shine brightly in the midst of a very fearful world. What should we remember? I can think of at least three things we should be fixing our minds on regularly:
1. Remember That God is Faithful to His Promises
The call for us to remember what’s true is rooted in a deeper reality—God remembers. When the Bible speaks of God remembering, it highlights the reality that God has bound himself to us by a covenant, and he is always faithful to what he has promised. When the enslaved Israelites cried out to God in Egypt, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Ex. 2:24).
When John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, praises God for the birth of John he sings that it was “to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham…” (Luke 1:72-73). What God promises, he does. The threats that surround us cannot shake God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises.
2. Remember God’s Presence With Us
Many scholars believe the setting for Psalm 46 is Assyria’s siege of Jerusalem recorded in 2 Kings 18-19. The army of Assyria, the most powerful and violent empire of the day, surrounded Jerusalem. From a merely human perspective, there was no hope. But the psalmist writes:
“1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1–3)
Because God has bound himself to us as his people, he is present to help when it feels like the ground beneath us is giving way. His faithfulness to his promises is not an abstract or theoretical truth, but it is a tangible and experiential reality. He is present to help.
3. Remember God’s call to love one another
Not only will fear lead you to forget, it can also lead you to turn in on yourself. Let’s strive to encourage one another to live out what we’ve learned in the Gospel of John:
“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:34–35)
Very practically, I think this means taking necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When we are careful to wash our hands and follow the suggestions of our community leaders, we show love to the most vulnerable in our community. We can also demonstrate this love by reaching out to one another, listening well, and continuing to meet one another’s needs as we are able.
I encourage you to be creative in how you continue to engage in relationships (cards, phone, or video calls, etc.). Be attuned to whether others are struggling with anxiety. Don’t seek to immediately correct or fix them (this goes for your response during all times of anxiety); rather, ask good questions and listen well. Talk about Scripture together and pray with one another.
When We Remember
This is an extraordinary season in which we are living, and it is a challenging one. Yet, it’s also an extraordinary opportunity to exercise our faith. Let’s be a remembering people—remembering God’s faithfulness, remembering his presence and help, and remembering our call to love one another. As we remember, our hearts and minds will be calmed with the truth that our Lord is sovereign, and he remembers us.