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Scripture reminds us to have no anxiety, even amid world crisis
One of my favorite verses in Scripture comes from St. Paul the Apostle, in which he tells the people of Philippi to “have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6).
I am not, by nature, an overly anxious person, yet this verse resonates with me completely. It is a reminder of what we, as people of faith, are called to do during times of trial. We are to pray, to ask him to meet our needs and wants, to pour our hearts out to him, and to thank him. Then, knowing we have placed our troubles in his hands, we are to be filled with his peace.
“Let go, and let God,” is one popular phrase that pretty much sums it up. All our trust is to be in him.
These words are not meant to be trite as our world faces a crisis of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. I strongly believe there is much we can do in the realm of personal responsibility as we face the coronavirus pandemic. We need to respect our governmental leaders and listen to our health care professionals. We need to continue social distancing, even though it means great personal sacrifice to each one of us. We need to come together, act together, for the common good, knowing that if we don’t, many more will suffer — especially the weak and the elderly.
But we should not be people of fear. For we know that whatever happens on this earth, the battle is already won. God is the victor, and we can be the benefactors of the great gift of his salvation if we follow his commandments. What is there, really, to fear?
In one of the many letters that St. Francis de Sales wrote to those seeking spiritual advice and counsel, he admonished the letter-writer for giving in to fear.
“Fear is a greater evil than the evil itself. O daughter of little faith, what do you fear? No, fear not; you walk on the sea, amid the winds and the waves, but it is with Jesus,” he wrote. “What is there to fear?”
But even while he told her she should not fear, he was filled with compassion and mercy for her feelings, and offered the following advice:
“But if fear seizes you, cry loudly: O Lord, save me,” he wrote. “He will give you his hand: clasp it tight, and go joyously on. In short, do not philosophize about your trouble, do not turn in upon yourself, go straight on. No, God could not lose you, so long as you live in your resolution not to lose him.”
He continued his advice with words that, in today’s time of uncertainty, resound and yet are filled with comfort.
“Let the world turn upside down, let everything be in darkness, in smoke, in uproar — God is with us; and if God dwelleth in darkness, and on the Mount of Sinai, all smoking, and covered with the thunders, with lightnings and noises, shall we not be well near him?”
We are people of faith, and, as Psalm 23 reminds us, though we may walk through the valley of death, we should fear no evil, for the Lord is with us.
Please know that I am praying for all readers of Our Sunday Visitor, and all those you love, during this difficult time. Please pray for me, too. And have no anxiety at all; instead, be filled with his peace.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.