There is a saying that I think comes from ancient China. I am never sure if it is intended as a curse or a proverb. It says;
May you live in interesting times
In my opinion, the year 2020 would easily fall into the category of interesting times! I would hazard a guess most of us have never experienced anything like this before. For many involved in Church leadership, life has been full of anxiety and the challenge of making stressful decisions that we feel unqualified to make.
I wonder, how that stress and anxiety is manifested in your life?
I am not a great one for dreaming. Recently, however, I have found my dreams have become more vivid and stay with me for longer. Just the other night, I dreamt I was driving a bus full of people from one side of a town to the other. As I drove, I turned down narrow streets, faced dead ends and I ended up negotiating tight turns in a busy market place. I could see the main road, my destination, but I was unable to reach it because of the obstructions.
I don’t think it takes much imagination to interpret that dream!
Over the years, I have read articles and been told by some preachers that Christians should not struggle with anxiety, depression, stress and worry. I remember being told that anyone suffering with these conditions were lacking in faith and were, therefore, sinning.
Thankfully, attitudes are beginning to change.
There is a growing awareness of mental health and emotional well-being. I know my fellowship, Pier Avenue in Clacton, along with other Churches across the EBA, we are exploring ways in which we can support people’s spiritual, physical and emotional health.
I have been wrestling with a verse that is often quoted in relation to this subject;
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5 vs. 7 – NIV)
I have often found, when I am anxious, this verse has made me feel guilty. My reading of this is “I am anxious because I am failing to give it to God.” Pray harder until you feel more in control. The effect of this has been rather than lowering my anxiety, it has increased it!
When I feel guilty, I am more anxious. When I am anxious, I feel guilty and I end up trapped in that vicious circle. Perhaps, in my mind, I am hearing again those sermons of old.
As I have been praying, wrestling and reflecting, I felt God was saying to me something that I really needed to hear. I felt that God was telling me that my focus in this verse was wrong. I was focusing on the anxiety and casting part of the verse. What I was not focusing upon, is the care that God has for us. As I was writing in my journal, I believe God gave me permission to re-write this verse to help me change my focus;
Because God cares for you, you can give all your anxiety to him.
(1 Peter 5 vs. 7 – SF version!)
I found that really blessed me. Perhaps, it may bless you too.