It seems like everyone I meet is struggling with anxiety, to varying degrees. And who can blame them? We are constantly bombarded with news of wars, political unrest, mistreatment of women, racial and cultural tensions, domestic violence, sex trafficking, exploitation of children, and every kind of evil under the sun. People respond to the effects of this cumulative stress by turning to drugs, alcoholism, voluntary isolation, and death by suicide. Like ripples in a pond that travel rapidly outwards from a stone tossed into the middle, the waves of pain crash against everyone in their wake, leaving even more anxiety and despair.
Some people make a deliberate attempt to avoid everything negative, and there is certainly some wisdom in that. They unplug from social media and television, keep to themselves, and limit stressful encounters. These people exude calm, and do all they can to avoid confrontation. You can often even hear it in their voice… they speak softly, with no sign of tension or stress. There is a time and a place for all of us to take a break and decompress. A lot of emotional and physical issues could be alleviated, or even avoided, if we were more deliberate about stepping away from the busy traffic of society and the news media.
But some don’t have the option to make that a permanent lifestyle. They have been called, by whatever means, to stay in the thick of the chaos.
I have been learning some valuable lessons lately about the importance of choosing which voice to listen to, in a world that is calling to me from all directions. That triggers a healthy dose of criticism from the voices I choose to ignore, but I am learning to be grateful for the hecklers, because they are pushing me to strengthen my boundaries, which is a trait I desperately needed to learn.
One of the accusations that was recently flung at me was that Christianity is a crutch for the weak.
I disagree. Christianity isn’t a crutch, it’s a stretcher for the exhausted, crushed, depleted wretch that I am. Apart from Christ, I would surely crumble under the weight of all the sadness, brokenness, and pain that I wade through every day. Christianity doesn’t just support me, it carries me.
And the most amazing thing happens when I consistently choose to find my rest in Jesus… I am built back, time and time again, and I am becoming the strong, confident, self assured, and unafraid warrior that I was meant to be all along.
If we live in the world, and if we are called to minister to the world, we cannot avoid stress. Heartache and pain will always be a part of our lives. It’s good to step back and take a break when the stress overwhelms, and there is infinite wisdom in being carried by the stretcher of faith.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”