• jimpaula

Everything is going to be ok

Paula reflects on the abundance of anxiety in our culture today and suggests ways to overcome it. She proposes that knowing our Father is the best antidote to anxiety.

A lot to be anxious about

Our world today tells us we have a lot to be anxious about. We are bombarded constantly through the immediacy of media covering worldwide events, unstable politics and catastrophes such as natural disasters caused by climate change. Here in New Zealand it reached an all time low last year when we could witness a horrific live act of terror on Facebook Live as a gunman shot and killed 51 innocent people.

However, the current anxiety epidemic is out of control in developed countries and we all know that developing countries have their fair share of catastrophes: unstable governments, natural disasters and terrorism.

So the cause of anxiety is more complicated than just the saturation of news and media updates.

Anxiety is not easy to define and is hard to pinpoint. For some it may be hidden behind behaviours such as criticism, indecisiveness, perfectionism and constantly seeking more wealth and success. I have heard anxiety described as being a web of “what if’s?” or a negative belief of the world that leaves us feeling helpless and out of control.

We as a church, I believe, have no less of an issue with anxiety than those outside the church. We live in the world and our culture affects us.

So how can we respond as Christians in this post Christian era where anxiety is rampant and individualism and secularism are common worldviews?

A Christian response

Here are 3 things that have helped me:

1. Citizenship

Remember we belong in the Kingdom of God. God is Sovereign, reigning over all and we have a hope and a future. This speaks volumes to those around us in uncertain times.

As Christians we need to live like we belong to God and remember heaven is our home.

In Romans chapter 1, verses 6-7 we are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

In Romans chapter 14, verse 8, if we live or if we die we belong to the Lord.

Psalm chapter 73, verse 23 says “Yet I still belong to you; you hold me by my right hand.”

This means facing the future trusting God and looking to His Word for direction (Psalm chapter 119, verse 105). That means never giving up hope and moving forward with God whatever the circumstances.

Our focus needs to be on Jesus, not on our circumstances. We are more than conquerors no matter what life throws at us.

Overall knowing the love of a Heavenly Father I believe is the antidote to a world full of anxiety - knowing how God sees you, loves you, that being born was His plan and you can trust Him completely for the future.

We can trust God for our future as he is our Heavenly Father and we belong to Him. He has all the power and has the whole world in His hands

2. Contentment

Our Heavenly Father loves us and gives us what we need. Unlike our world today we don’t need to be striving for more as if our life depended on it (Luke chapter 12, verses 22-34).

Our culture is all about more success, more education, more money, more possessions, more likes, but this is not healthy in regards to our mental well-being. In themselves, these are not bad but it is our attitude towards them and relying on them in order to be content that affects our levels of anxiety.

In chapter 12, verses 25 & 26 Luke asks if anxiety does us any good? We worry because we seek after and set our heart upon clothes, status, wealth, social media and these things become our identity. As Christians our heart posture needs to be towards God and letting Him work through us. We are to seek His Kingdom above all else and everything will be added into us.

How we spend our time is a good indicator of how content we are. I heard someone say recently we don’t need to hurry or worry as God is not hurried or worried. To be more like Mary at the feet of Jesus rather than Martha. Martha was doing good things but Jesus said Mary chose the better way.

As Christians we need to listen at His feet as doing good deeds or a particular ministry can become our treasure. Remember where your treasure is there your heart will be also.

3. Connection

Remember it is our love for one another that attracts others to Jesus. Most experts agree that what strengthens our emotions is relationships and being connected to one another.

We are more socially isolated than ever before even though we have so many Facebook friends and Instagram followers. We don’t know how to belong in a community because as a society our priority now is ourselves.

I know personally the value of church family. Making a big church small is key however that looks - serving on teams, doing group Bible Studies or joining life groups. I think how we care for each other in church is directly linked to our understanding of God’s care for us.

Known and loved by God

Overall knowing the love of a Heavenly Father I believe is the antidote to a world full of anxiety - knowing how God sees you, loves you, that being born was His plan and you can trust Him completely for the future.

It hurts to see people struggle and so often young people struggle in the area of anxiety as a result of the culture they are growing up in.

It can all seem too hard at times so we give up trying to help in case we do the wrong thing. I think the key is to let anyone struggling know they are known and loved by God and as a church family they belong and are not alone. To do that means taking off masks we feel comfortable wearing and being more open and vulnerable but perhaps we can start by asking “how are you really?”.

As a church if we all participated this way I think everyone’s well-being would improve - mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. I loved hearing last year from my daughter about the significance for her friend of when her youth group went to her home when she wasn’t well enough to come to the church youth group. That’s when things shifted for her - her friends represented Jesus so well. Let’s trust Jesus to guide us to help those around us.

So what can I say to the next generation in particular as their culture threatens to overwhelm their thoughts and emotions ?

How as Christians can we live a life of faith in a culture of fear and anxiety?

I believe as we remember our citizenship, learn to be content, and are connected with church family, we can be counter cultural and can confidently say to the next generation in particular

“Everything is going to be okay”.

Paula is a speech language therapist with pre-schoolers who have a disability. She and her husband, Jim, have been part of Windsor Park since moving from the UK 20 years ago.They are parents of two teens and have recently become team leaders for year 9 youth. Writing is a new thing but one which she is enjoying as a way of expressing how God speaks and leads her in everyday life. // Photo: Caleb Van Essen

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