I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a virus going around. In fact, experts call it a pandemic. But I’m not talking about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis – I’m referring to the virus of worry.
Of course, legitimate concern over COVID-19 is fuelling our apprehension these days. Yet our tendency to get mired in anxiety goes far beyond this medical crisis. One psychologist called worry “one of the most urgent problems of our day.”
Sometimes worry can be good for us – for example, when it’s “productive worry” that prompts us to take prudent steps toward solving a problem. But when worry runs amok, it can lead to depression, digestive disorders, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks.
Fortunately, Christians recognise worry for what it is: spiritual amnesia. In other words, we get anxiety-ridden over our future because we have forgotten God’s track record of helping us in our past.
We see an example in Mark 6, where Jesus wants to feed 5,000 people. The disciples panic because they’re in a desolate location and they moaned in Mark 6:37 that it would take a fortune to buy food for everyone.
They had forgotten how Jesus had repeatedly demonstrated his miraculous power over nature, sickness, and death. If they had remembered that, they wouldn’t have been so nervous about him being able to feed 5,000 people – which he ended up doing with a few loaves of bread and fish.
Here’s the kicker – just two chapters later, Jesus wants to feed another crowd of 4,000 people. Do the disciples keep their cool and say, “We remember how you got us out of that jam the last time!” No, instead they worry – a classic case of spiritual amnesia!
We think, “How can the disciples forget so easily?” But then we stop and realise, “What about me? How often do I get mired in worry because I’ve forgotten God’s faithfulness through the years?” The Bible gives a prescription for overcoming spiritual amnesia. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to pray a specific kind of prayer – one that includes giving thanks: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So we practice what author Don Baker calls “Thank You Therapy.” We thank God that he knows all about our individual situation and wants the best for us. We thank him for his promise that he’ll meet our needs. We thank him that he will cause whatever happens to his followers to work for our greater benefit. We enumerate the ways he has come through for us in the past and we thank him for those.
We thank him for his promise that he will never desert us. We thank him that he intervenes in our circumstances at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way to accomplish exactly what he wants to accomplish.
Can you see what this achieves? First, we’re appropriately honouring God for who he is and what he does. Second, we’re refocusing our thinking. Instead of dwelling on our worries, we’re reminded of his power, his promises, and his commitment to us. And that helps get us on the path toward solutions. But some people wrestle with a specific kind of worry. They’re unsure where they stand with God, and the current crisis has exacerbated that concern. If they were to die, they lack confidence they’ll spend eternity with God in heaven.
Clearly, God doesn’t want anyone to be apprehensive over this. The apostle John says in 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
John spells out the formula for faith in John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name.”
So the equation is Believe + Receive = Become.
If you believe Jesus is who He claimed to be – the unique Son of God who overcame the grave – and you receive his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life in a sincere prayer of repentance and faith, then you can be certain that you have become God’s child.
Now that’s another promise worth thanking him for!
If you’ve never prayed to receive Christ, do it right now, and then have confidence that regardless of how the COVID-19 crisis plays out, you are safe in his arms – forever!