By Jessica Yoder
There’s a lot to not understand right now.
Perhaps your mind swims as you stare at the screen filing for unemployment or at the stack of schoolbooks you’re now responsible to see your children open. Maybe the cheerful banter of the little people you once daily nannied or taught has dissolved into an aching echo in your heart--a heart brimming with emptiness in their absence. Perhaps that phone call came, and someone you know has been touched with this queen of viruses. And maybe you wonder if you’ve been careful enough to protect your family from her stealth.
Let’s face it. It’s unsettling, this season of uncertainty. Uncertainty and sudden change tend to tease our minds into anxiety.
We don’t understand why the normal we loved has been so rudely snatched and we fear life will never return to the comforting familiar. We don’t understand what we’re supposed to be doing in this awkward uncertainty. And, just maybe, we wrestle with guilt for feeling so sad for ourselves when so many others have a better reason for tears.
Anxiety is certainly not a 21st-century phenomena. Paul, in his upbeat letter to the Philippians, addresses the wearisome worry that, even then, wrapped itself around the hearts and minds of believers.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” he writes, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Imagine a child walking into the unknown--a scary situation, a new experience, a frightening circumstance. Tears well as she gazes around her, and she reaches for her parent’s hand. Maybe she uses words; maybe her parent hears the pitter-pat of her trusting heartbeat, but the mother or father recognizes the quiet cry, the request for reassurance.
What parent, when handed such quiet trust, such simple faith, will leave their child alone and unguarded? Will they not work everything in their power to protect the heart of their trembling child, even as they step into the midst of the new and scary?
Such is our Father. He asks us to venture into the unknown--sometimes even nudges us out without our consent. We may fear, we may tremble, but He wants to know. He bids us to spill our tangled worries, bids us to gratefulness, and then holds us in the hollow of His hand. Protected. The storm may still swirl, but His peace will guard our hearts and minds, casting out the anxiety and worry.
The beautiful irony of it all is that it doesn’t even make sense, this peace that surpasses all understanding. Our mortal eyes blink around and remind our heads that we should panic, but the guard of our hearts--Jesus--stays the fear at the door.
Honestly, that’s one more thing that I don’t understand right now. But it’s something that I can embrace. It’s Someone I can rest in, Someone I can choose to defend myself with when the anxious thoughts clank on my heart and mind.
Gently Jesus bids us to carry our fearful hearts into His strong embrace, to tilt our teary faces toward His kind gaze. And in the weakness of our understanding, His peace will defend us.