Fear, Anxiety, and God – Pastoral Advice During Coronavirus Crisis

 Fr. Johannes Jacobse Fear, Anxiety, and God (Advice During Coronavirus Crisis)by Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
If we seek the Savior, if we conform our lives in obedience to Him, then peace and assurance can reign in our heart and we will get through this trial strengthened and changed.

I did a live stream this morning on how to handle the anxiety and fear that grips a lot of people during this pandemic. Here are my recommendations.

(1) Use the media sparingly. Don’t spend the day watching the news. The constant repetition of the same “facts” (in precious short supply until more concrete numbers come in) amplifies them; it gives them a greater authority than what they warrant.

Most news readers (real journalists are few) don’t know much. They simply don’t have the time to study what they report. Consequently, most draw from the same sources, and some of those sources are suspect. Maintaining a critical distance is prudent.

Secondly, how we think is how we see. If we fill our minds with the cacophony (Greek: kakos phonos which means “bad sound”) of the media, we will see the world through that lens. It will feed the anxiety and increase it.

(2) Deal with the questions about your own mortality. The truth is we all die. In our age when discussion about our impending mortality is forbidden, the source of the anxiety and fear — the place from which it originates — remains distant from us.

Where does the anxiety and fear originate? From deep within. The fact we are all going to die compels to one of two things: Deny it, or look upward. Denial leads to all sorts of dysfunction (in our age usually a flight into addictions), while looking upward, calling our God, will bring peace.

(3) Pray and read Scripture. Remember how I said that how we think shapes how we see? The scriptures are the Word of God through the words of men. What the prophets and apostles teach is what God wants us to hear and how to think. If we direct our lives in this way — if we are driven by hope instead of fear — peace will enter your soul and quell the fear and anxiety, and you will see more clearly. Start with the Psalms.

Pray then read, pray as you read, read then pray — it doesn’t matter how you do it. What matters is that your soul finds nourishment, and when you soul is nourished you create spaces that can be filled with the peace of God.

(4) Does God create disease? No, He does not. Disease and death entered the world because of Adam’s sin. When he sinned, he not only broke himself, he broke creation too. God is still here, in fact as soon as Adam became aware of his sin and tried to hide from God (when he first experienced shame), God Himself went out to find him. “Adam, where are you?” it says in Genesis. This tells us that God will not abandon us because He did not abandon Adam.

Disease and death still exist because the world is still fallen (broken). Christ came to destroy death and succeeded when He rose from the dead. This means that the trajectory of history has changed.

Before Christ death reigned. There was no way to defeat the anxiety and fear. After Christ, death can be overcome and we prepare for own death by little deaths and resurrections in this life.

The pandemic is one example of where we do it. If we seek the Savior, if we conform our lives in obedience to Him (obedience is learned), then peace and assurance can reign in our heart and we will get through this trial strengthened and changed.

 Fr. Johannes Jacobse Fear, Anxiety, and God (Advice During Coronavirus Crisis)

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