These days, all it takes to make my internal temperature rise is spending about five minutes on Twitter. (That’s the closest I get to news.)
Good grief, people. We need Jesus.
Drifting into the riptide of anxiety is easy when my eyes are fixed on this world—its chaos, its concerns, its leaders, its followers, its system. What’s that old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them. I can get sucked so quickly into joining in on the finger-pointing, problem-solving, emotional intoxication of it all. Allowing the culture’s fear (which is frankly inevitable apart from a fleshed-out friendship with God) to determine my attitudes and actions is as natural as submitting to the ocean’s undertow. And quite as deadly.
Just when I’m ready to unplug forever, pack up, and run away to a deserted island, I remember: as strong as the current washing me out to sea might feel, there’s a Lifeguard on duty, and I’m firmly in His sights.
The world is only scary when I think I face it alone. Like a stubborn toddler returning once more to the dangerous waves, I insist on forgetting my good Father is calling. In His love, He keeps sending my big Brother after me—over and over and over. Mercy. Patience. Kindness. Strength. Wisdom. Compassion. Those strong arms sweep me up again, terror giving way to joy.
What’s the best cure for our cultural hot mess syndrome? The gospel, our perpetual buoy of peace. Rehearsing truths about Christ and His work will pull us back to shore.
Who is He?
All-seeing, all-present, all-powerful. Gracious. Intimate. For us and with us. Victorious. On the move. Unchanging. Full of grace and truth. Available. The only safe place. Faithful. Healer. Bent on His glory and our freedom. Champion. Worthy. Just.
What has He done?
He’s given us e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. to prove His longing for us. The love of the Father fixed on our rebellious selves, bloodied His own heart to rescue us and make us His family. Jesus absorbed the full wrath of God on our behalf. He conquered sin, death, and hell, smashing the shame and fears that had once held us hostage. He has washed us clean, covered us in affectionate kisses, and stuffed us with more promises than we can possibly hold. He has gone before us to prepare a glorious home, and, in the meantime, has sealed us with His own Spirit to guide, comfort, correct, grow, and empower us on a daily basis.
We are not unseen orphans. We don’t have to protect or provide for ourselves anymore.
God’s history of dealing with us—both at the macro level (since creation) and the micro level (since our own birth)—warrants no doubt that He will carry us through the darkest seasons imaginable in triumph. He didn’t abandon His people in the garden, or in Egypt, or in Babylon, or in the 400 years of silence, or in Roman persecution, or in spiritual upheaval, or in the dawn of skepticism, or in American slavery, or in German concentration camps… or on Twitter.* He’s still present. He’s still sovereign.
The truth is, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But we do know Who has promised to be there with us, just as much in control over every little detail as ever. Just for fun, let’s take a minute to envision the very worst scenarios we can come up with, the ones that keep us up at night, painting them vividly in all their gory details.
Now let’s put a filter on them: the person and work of Jesus. Keeping our pictures in mind, let’s read back through the two sections of gospel truth above. Which character traits bring us the most comfort? Which actions speak to our hearts in our worst-case scenarios? Because here’s the thing: our worst-case scenarios aren’t the worst-case scenario (receiving the full, eternal brunt of what we deserve in the face of a holy God). Christ has already taken care of that, and our future is forever secure. If there’s any kind of suffering between now and heaven, God has pledged to work every last ounce of it for good. Knowing His heart makes all things, even the what-ifs, bearable.
We aren’t in this on our own, friends. The Lifeguard is still on duty, keeping a weather eye out over all His dominion. Nothing is outside of His grasp, and He’s not too small to save.
*Putting our situations most prone to angst in line with the scope of history is a great way of gaining perspective. Don’t let this shame you or minimize your experience. What matters to us matters to Him, but see what He’s capable of handling? I find this thought sobering and calming.