Comfort in Anxiety
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” – Isaiah 40:10
There seems to be no shortage of things to worry about in this world. Whether it is our bank account, our health, our job security, our marriage (or lack thereof), or some other nagging worry, everyone has something to worry about. Sometimes it is the Christmas season that brings these worries to the forefront of our lives. Emergencies at Christmas time can be especially devastating. As others take a break and seem to be enjoying the break from school and work and responsibilities, all we can do is try not to panic.
In the early church, one of the biggest worries was persecution. This was a particular concern for Peter and Paul. Whether the persecution came from Jewish opponents or Roman officials, there was always a fear that Christians would be hunted down and dragged before counsels and judges and publically executed. Through the centuries of Church history this threat has come and gone, and today this threat still exists in many parts of the world.
Peter describes the situation of the Christian in no uncertain terms: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). We may think of lions we see at the zoo or in a nature documentary, but the image that Peter is using of a predator looking to destroy us.
Whether our anxieties are about the threat of persecution or some other threat, we can still follow the lead of Paul and Peter in this matter. The Apostles were constantly rehearsing and repeating Christ’s biography to any who would listen, because they knew it was a source of hope and comfort.
Christmas lays the ground work for humanity’s main source of comfort, a source that has never once changed: our redeemer still lives (Jb. 19:25). Christ is the one who will sustain the believer, he is the one on whom we should cast all our cares (1 Cor. 1:8; 1 Pet. 5:7). Christ came to earth as a baby, lived on earth as a man, and ministered for three years to rich and poor, and especially to those cast out of society. He died on a cross and was raised from the dead. Now he reigns with authority.
Therefore, no emergency, no circumstance, not even the devil himself, can loosen the hold that Christ has on those who follow him. Our worries are temporary, but Christ’s strength is eternal.