By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
The grocery stores and pharmacies have been out of face masks for over 10 days. Last Sunday, there were lines at the check-out counters resembling the behavior of Texans with a three- day warning of a hurricane brewing up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and headed our way. Some people prepare better than others. Some people are able to perfect anxiety better than others. Faith matters. But folks are worried God can’t handle the impending pandemic called Covid-19. I’m not sure God has anything to do with it and God knows what we can do!
Long ago, in the early days of the emerging Church, called “followers of the way” … and that way being Jesus of Nazareth… St. Augustine once wrote… “anxiety is the garden in which sin grows…” These were words well placed in a time when Christians were being killed by the Roman government for exercising their religious freedom. The problem was there was no freedom. Yet, they carried on exercising the faith they found trustworthy. My hunch is more people will have died because they were Christian in those days versus the number of people who may die from Covid-19. But I’ve been wrong before.
It’s an interesting feeling… anxiety… that is…
We’ve learned over the years that some people are anxious because there is a chemical imbalance in their body and it was given to them in their DNA and it messes with their growing up and being able to make friends and sustain relationships. Yet, there are others who become anxious because they have this understanding of the way things were and how things are now and not liking the story’s outcome. For an entire decade a generation of young adults were labeled as uncaring and lazy only to be found out they were afraid of the future the older adults in their lives were discussing. All they heard was the world would come to an end over wars and bombs and global conflict causing them to throw up their arms in disbelief and asking themselves, “why should I care and carve out some sort of life when it’s not going to last anyway?” Point noted. Anxiety exposed. And the result is what St. Augustine warned… there’s a garden full of sin growing in the soil of our collective anxiousness. All of us!
Consider this… we are bombarded by news every day in ways the human story has never been exposed to before… not just on the TV, radio or newspaper, but right in the palm of our hands! Anxiety does have a source and some of the sources are less trustworthy than others. So, one of the ways we can ‘fear God” … the Bible’s word for love and trust… is to get our facts straight. The world has had many pandemics over the centuries and God has given us the brainpower to deal with them head on… and look around… we’re still here! I’m writing words on my laptop and you are reading them. Shout amen! Life’s messy. Faith matters.
Proverbs 12:25 reminds us… “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
These are times for kind words and hopeful postures. Many of us remember the story of Chicken Little and overtures that the sky was falling. It wasn’t the case at all. Make sure you know who your friends are. Their faith matters, too!
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is long-time resident of Pearland and the pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Towne Pearland. You can follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi Your comments and/or questions can be sent to [email protected].