Finding Faith and Peace in Anxious Times

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Yesterday Facebook reminded me of what I was doing this time last year…

I was going into the hospital three days in a row to have a nuclear scan because of a carcinoid tumor that would require surgery. That sounds scary enough, doesn’t it? But it was especially eerie because Covid had just shut everything down.

As I was walking into the hospital for a test, I saw a man go up to the lobby window and knock on it. A nurse came outside and he handed her some masks he was donating, saying, “I don’t want to step in there,” as he gestured toward the hospital.

The nurse nodded and thanked him for the masks. And then I followed her into that dangerous building. I was stopped right away at a table and asked those questions we are all used to these days. And as I walked to the elevator I noticed nurses standing talking to each other. I’d never seen a hospital so empty.

It was all scary and sort of surreal stuff, but here’s what I wrote and felt that day…

Daily visits to the hospital this week for a series of three to four long scans. I have some challenging health stuff going on. But I’m sitting here close to tears because I feel God’s peace. I feel held up and comforted by the prayers of family and friends. I know God is with me and He is good! I’m grateful.

This is so not me. I’m a big baby about medical stuff. I’m a fearful person. But it was God’s grace holding me in His peace.

Later that day, I struggled to keep that peace when I had to have a rescan because they saw something light up around my thyroid. I was discouraged that they told me to schedule a biopsy on that too, after my surgery. (The thyroid ended up being benign, which I found out a couple months later.)

But the thing I’m learning through all of this medical stuff is that God gives grace when we need it. He doesn’t remove all of our emotions. But He helps us. His presence is real. And prayers can be literally felt.

I’m still on this medical and faith journey. I’m still stumbling and learning how to trust Him more. But here are a couple things that are helping me and I share in hopes they may help others, too.

I read The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace, years ago. She has a chapter on fear that has been a great blessing to me. She said that God doesn’t give grace for things in our imagination (I have an awesome imagination). He doesn’t give grace ahead of time for what we think the future will be. He gives grace for today.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

Peace goes on to say basically that we need to pray and focus on what our God-given responsibilities for today are. Do you need to call the doctor? Then do it. Do you need to call a prayer team? Call. And then continue with your daily responsibilities. Be busy loving God and others. Don’t sit and dwell on your troubles. Do what you can and should about your concerns, and then get on with life the best you can.

Martin Luther put it this way, “What we cannot know, we should leave to God. …Let the future remain in darkness. Let it stay secret and hidden. In the meantime, we should do what we know we ought to do. We should live by God’s Word and the light He has given us.”

Elizabeth Elliot popularized an old poem that can be summed up by the phrase “Do the next thing.”

One stanza of the poem reads:

Many a questioning, many a fear, many a doubt, hath its quieting here. Moment by moment, let down from Heaven, time, opportunity, and guidance are given. Fear not tomorrows, child of the King, Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

source unknown

One of the other most helpful things I’ve been doing is to look for the blessings every day. I pray for eyes to see them. God sends His comfort in so many ways… sunshine, a call from a friend, a child’s smile, a good meal, a compassionate doctor, and so on.

I like to write down the blessings in my desk calendar each evening, along with events of the day. Sometimes God points out a Bible verse that so exactly matches a need I know its from Him. Sometimes a song on the radio touches my heart and encourages me. Sometimes I’m able to take a nap and it was just the refreshment required. God’s fingerprints of love and care are all around us.

The whole world is experiencing anxiety these days. But we have our Abba Father telling us to cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7). We are to trust the future to Him. We are to focus on our responsibilities today and be busy loving God and others and doing the next thing.

And as we go through each day we can pray for clarity to see God’s presence, provision, and blessings all around us. And we can thank Him with grateful hearts.

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