I have spent the majority of my life a nervous wreck. Even when the rest of the world was experiencing relative peace I figured out a way to panic. I worried about the possibility of A.I.D.S. being airborne in the late 1980’s. I worried about the prospects of middle east tensions sparking World War III back in the 1990’s. I worried about the safety and security of my family when the terrorists struck in 2001. One might argue that those are reasonable thing to worry about but I have to be really honest. I have also worried that a muscle spasm was the beginning of ALS. I have worried that a cramp in my daughter’s leg was the result of a tumor. I have worried that I am in the wrong profession because I don’t fancy myself a good public speaker. I have worried about pretty much….everything.
One would think, given my history, that the news swirling around each of us about COVID-19 would have me rolled up in the corner sucking my thumb. It only makes sense that a chronic worrier would be in an absolute panic over a pandemic that if not contained could cost tens of thousands of people their lives. But I am not worried…..I am hopeful.
How is it possible for a professional worrier to be hopeful in such an uncertain time?
When I realized how much of my life and joy worrying was stealing from me I decided to go to professional counseling. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made for my own mental health, my family and the church that I lead. Why? Because of a simple statement my counselor made to me one time when I was confessing some of the crazy things I worried about specifically as it related to my kids. She looked at me and said, “Randy, if you can protect them from everything why in the world would they ever need a heavenly father?” Those words delivered hope to my soul and perspective I had never leveraged.
I am not just hopeful right now….I’ve never been more hopeful. Just moments before writing this I wrapped up a teleconference call with our church staff. The theme of the meeting was simply this: we have to do things differently but the goal is the same….point people to Jesus. As leaders in the church we have to view this as an opportunity to tell people that are scared, isolated and confused that we can’t bring calm to their storm but our heavenly father can. We can’t give them freedom from their sins, their confusion, their isolation or their anger….but our heavenly father can.
I’ve never been more hopeful. It feels like God is forcing the church to think differently, to act courageously, to dream creatively and to do what he has always asked us to do: point people to our only hope. Point people to Jesus.
Christian, are you hopeful today?
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)