Fall comes swiftly on the Canadian prairies.
It seems only yesterday the sun peeked around my blinds to wake me each morning. Now when my phone sings its early melodic song, I’m greeted with darkness.
I used to love the fall season. I still do; the dramatic changing of leaves, pumpkin-spiced lattes, and the reemergence of scarves and sweaters. But sometimes the coronavirus feels like a threatening rain cloud hovering over the harvested fields.
Dreading the future
When the trees first began undressing their leaves, I gathered with some friends. As we socially distanced around the deck, the conversation turned to winter.
“I’m already dreading winter,” somebody said. “It’s going to be so isolating.”
“There will be nowhere to take the kids,” another woman chimed in. “The places we used to go will be closed. We’ll be stuck at home all winter!” The other women voiced similar fears and predictions.
Winter? They were already thinking about winter?
Anxiety simmered in my body that night. I stirred their comments, along with my own speculations, like stew in a pot.
Will my kids have anyone to play with? Will grandparents go into complete isolation again? Will I go the entire winter without face-to-face conversations with my closest friends? Will my mental health survive social isolation on top of seasonal depression in the dreary winter months?
Before anxiety could reach its boiling point, the Holy Spirit reached inside my heart and turned off the burner. He reminded me of a podcast episode I had listened to months ago.
Summer Joy Gross, the host of The Presence Project Podcast, had shared a story of her mom. Her mother was anxious about transitioning into a senior home. As she worried about the future, the Lord whispered her name and said, “You are imagining a future without Me in it.”
I imagined the Lord directing the same gentle, yet chastising, words to me. “Shara-Rae, you are imagining a winter without Me in it.”
Immediately, tangible, supernatural peace replaced my speculations and fears.
Yes, of course! The coronavirus may be in the foreseeable future, but God, my Father, and Friend, my Saviour and King, is there, too.
No matter what tomorrow brings, we do not walk through trials and suffering alone. Like David, we can declare by faith:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, He told His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble.” He was preparing them for the trials and persecutions they would face following His death and resurrection.
Yet Jesus followed this hard statement with a boisterous, “But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33, NIV italics mine).
I imagine Jesus saying the same to us.
“You are going to face pain, heart-ache, and uncertainty in this life,” He tells us gently. “But don’t worry! I got this! Be strong and courageous. Remember My words when the going gets tough, and let them comfort your heart. I have already won the victory. Just wait and see.”
What if we trust Jesus but still experience anxiety?
Are we “bad Christians” if we’ve experienced fear, anxiety, and depression this year?
Of course not! These are normal human emotions and experiences.
But here’s the good news: As apprentices of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to fear (Romans 8:15). Because we have a Saviour who is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), we do not need to fear as the rest of the world does.
We can face reality and admit, without fear of condemnation, “Things are weird right now. I feel anxious/sad/mad about the future. But I am choosing to place my trust in the One who saves. I am choosing to give my fear to Jesus today, hourly if necessary, and accept the abundant life He offers in the midst of my struggles.”
Whether we live or die tomorrow, we believe with certainty that we will spend eternity with God. We can endure the troubles of today with the hope that one day there will be no more tears or sorrow, but everlasting joy and peace.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world, you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” John 16:33 AMP.