Does God Worry? Not if God is All-Knowing, All-seeing, Always Present, All-Loving, Almighty All, The Great I AM (full stop)! IN CHARGE!!! But, Did Jesus (God as human) Get Anxious? Jesus’ earthly life shows God entering into our worries and anxiety: thoroughly disturbed at Lazarus’s grave, in Gethsemane praying and sweating blood, and as he died on the cross, crying out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me!?” There is great mystery around how Jesus could be both God and human at the same time, but it is of great comfort to know that Jesus got anxious and concerned as he engaged with the trials and traumas of planet earth.
Fright led to Fight. Aged 4, I found myself outside of a large French castle guzzling sweet wild strawberries. I turned back to find the huge wooden gates bolted shut. I panicked, sure I was shut out forever. Banging, for what felt like an eternity, someone eventually opened the gates, sobbing I ran to my mum, who scooped me up in a warm hug to assure me that all would be ok.
As a teenager there were moments when I ran as quick as I could from certain situations, where hanging around would certainly harm me. Fright led to Flight. On other occasions I’ve frozen on the spot, unsure how to respond, Fright led to Freeze. Whatever our best responses in times of acute anxiety (freeze, fright or flight) God’s gift is INSIGHT. The top trump card to store in our heads and hearts, ready to play when pained by panic, is “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This line from the children’s hymn saved Nadia when she stood on a bridge contemplating suicide. The truth that God loves us deeply and dearly is what our psyche needs saturated in, to soak our soul in a sense of eternal wellbeing. Oh Please, let’s be kind to one another (and ourselves) to prove this truth!
I prefer to call worry and anxiety ‘deep concern’. Human emotions are gifts to draw our attention to realities, which need to be faced and processed. But it’s helpful to discern the difference between rational and irrational anxiety. On the eve of my wedding day, having dinner with Dorothy’s family, I noticed that she’d left the table. She was just visiting the loo, but I panicked, sure she’d left me forever. This may be traceable to a sense of desertion I perhaps felt as a 2 year old, when my dad died. I was mighty relieved when Dorothy returned to table! The intense anxiety of desertion drew deep concern, but it had no real foundation, so I was able to discard it and let panic subside; but for some, irrational worry is so deep seated that it’s not as easy to clear. Indeed, some people can be told time and time again that everything is okay but the irrational alarm going off in their head still tells them otherwise. The truth that ‘God Really Loves Me’ needs to be repeated daily, moment by moment for some.
Cancer, Covid, Debt, Redundancy, Separation from loved ones, there are lots of valid concerns to demand attention. Perhaps Death is the greatest fright of all. Jesus, even went through death for you and me to assure us that not even death can separate us from God’s Love in Christ Jesus!
Along with ‘Insight into God’s Love’, here are a few tips for re-setting the panic-alarm going off in our head: Slow deep breaths; Move: sing/dance/walk/cycle/run; Get into nature: see, smell, hear, feel, taste; Chat with: yourself, trusted people and God; Laugh! Learn more about your mind and how to help it – ‘Anxiety & Depression: A Workbook for Dummies’ (comprehensive self-help book); Plug into a local faith community, connect with the North Ayrshire Wellness and Recovery College: Phone 01294 447355.
“Cast all your anxiety on God, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
“Oh Buoy, Jump For Joy!”