As I consider the stress and anxiety I feel deep within, and as I speak to others, I have been encouraging them as I’ve been encouraging myself, to understand that some of this must stem directly from what, in the providence of God, has been denied to us in this time. We should not expect to be without struggles when such important elements of our faith have been taken away by circumstances.
Recent conversations with other Christians have shown that I’m not alone in carrying an unusual level of stress, fear, and anxiety. These are uncertain days and many of us are struggling through them in various ways. Some are feeling this struggle as a heavy emotional weight, some are feeling it as despondency or listlessness, some are feeling it physically as cold sweats or a tightening of the chest. And no wonder! We are quarantined within our homes, we are adapting to unwelcome new realities, we are setting new patterns, we are facing a future that is uncertain, we have no idea when or if we’ll return to some semblance of normalcy. In the face of all this, perhaps it would be a surprise if we did not experience some anxiety and feel some measure of stress.
Thankfully, God knows this life will often be difficult and in his grace he has provided what we need to endure all our trials. God sanctifies, strengthens, and sustains his people through means, through disciplines or habits. But which means? Christians have long referred to “the ordinary means of grace” and defined them as Word, prayer, and sacraments. Though God may extend his grace through other means, he promises he will extend it through these ones. It is as we commit to these habits and practice these disciplines that God equips, strengthens, and assures his people.