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Hey, Everyone!  My name is Pat Stream, Pastor of Counseling at Faith Community Church.

Last week I really started to grasp the seriousness of this COVID-19 pandemic.

My heart was captured by so many “what-ifs”. Like all of you, I care so deeply about my family, my health, my neighbors, my employment, and my community. Do I have enough money in the bank? What do my kids need to understand? Is my wife going to be safe? Should I start stockpiling toilet paper?  Seriously. What if our food supply is too small??  What if I’m the first person in Hudson to be infected? Right? What if everything I am concerned about is actually at risk?  

When the hard reality of all this hit me, I felt anxious thoughts and emotions starting to take control of me. If you are listening to this, I want you to know that many concerns you have about life in this season of COVID-19, they are legitimate. Anxiety is universal for all of us. We’re human, and Anxiety is real!  

God knows the way our fearful thoughts can overwhelm us. And we matter to Him so much that he gives us the exact help our hearts need. 

“Fear not” is mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible. In most of those time it is combined with this magnificent truth - the Lord is near.  God hasn’t promised we won’t go through trials.  He has promised to be there with us!  Even with “social distancing” and “self isolation” of COVID 19, God will never leave us alone!!  

When worry, fear, and anxiety attack, God invites us to take our eyes off of our emotions and the situation and trust him, to believe “he’s got this.”

So what God offers to calm our anxiety is better than anything we’ve tried before.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he speaks God’s promises to people who were facing great difficulties.  He says: “…. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything..."  It goes on to say, "in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." And then it says “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." In other words, even in situations that are full of concerns, God the Father who cares for us, makes it possible to have victory over anxiety. 

In addition to our prayers of gratitude to God, there is something else we can do to guard ourselves from the grip of anxiety; this passage continues… "whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." When we "put into practice" these things, God again says "peace will be with you." This peace doesn’t come from going overboard on stocking up on supplies or by isolation. This is a peace that comes only by the Spirit of God. God does not hoard, he rewards, with peace.

I encourage you, let God be the only peace-giver you’re going to trust, because His peace is the only true peace.  

But we are going to have to train our minds to think this way. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection can give you the strength to renew your mind every day. Self-sufficient and self-protective attitudes will only fuel your anxiety. So, trust fully in God for everything you need, and live that out by praying with thankfulness, and looking for admirable and excellent ways to serve your neighbors and others in our community during this time.  

This week, as I was cycling through all my “what-if scenarios,” I thought to myself “Maybe I should stock up on gas?” So, I checked my garage, and all I had was this small container. Then I checked the level in each of the cars. They were fine. Almost full. Then I thought “I’ve gotta go top them off and get a couple larger gas cans too!!” …That was enough! I could see that I was trying to be self-sufficient! I reminded myself what the bible said, “Do not be anxious about anything... present your requests to God. Think on what is pure. God is SO wise, and he is more capable than you can imagine to handle ALL that you are facing.”  

EVEN IF all my concerns come true, God is with me.

The good will always be that we have learned to trust Him more in all circumstances. None of your struggle against anxiety will be wasted if you remember God is near, and turn to him.

Because of Jesus Christ, we have hope, even in the middle of COVID-19.

Jesus’ promise for you is that all suffering can ultimately lead you to knowing His peace. He invites you to trust him to give you victory in the face of anxiety. I encourage you to remind your heart over and over again that “God is near.” Be courageous, friends, and talk to God about your fears and anxieties. God wants to hear about every fear you are facing.

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