When traumatic events cause anxiety, Exodus 20 from the Bible brings peace. News of the new virus is overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. But, all the answers to the problems we face are found in the Bible. Read more as Scott shares themes from Exodus 20 that provoke peace.
Familiar. A sharp sense of trauma, and a vague sense of loss. Wanting to know, but not wanting to see it. The beginning thought of “Now what?”
Oklahoma City, April 1995
World Trade Center, September 2001
Wall Street, October 1987
You too can probably still remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news of these events if you were old enough to be aware of them. Like Oklahoma City and 9/11, our current crisis brings a sense of dread and tragedy. People are dying, and like those events, it is easy to anticipate additional deaths. Like the October 1987 Black Monday event when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22% in one day, we feel a loss of economic well-being and a threat to our prosperity.
Different. Coronavirus is presenting with a slow creep across the world. It is not a “one and done” like the other events where the tragedy happens and we’re left cleaning up afterwards-physically and emotionally. This time there is a sense of imminence, that the thing is about to happen. It’s like Wiley E. Coyote in the roadrunner cartoons when he runs off the edge of a cliff, then turns and looks at the audience with a forlorn expression right before plunging to the canyon bottom below. With the other events we were immediately thrust into recovery. This time we are watching it unfold and participating in the preparation and response.
We’re all bringing our own bucketful of emotions and attitudes about the coronavirus and it’s consequences–fears, concerns, regrets, grief, anger, frustration, determination, resolve, apathy, compliance, rebellion or others. We’re acting, but without a sense of control. We’re complying, or rebelling, but in reaction and not in a situation of our own making or choosing. This is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place to be.
Parallels between Exodus and our current traumatic event
The second book of the Bible, Exodus, records the events of the Hebrew people leaving the land of Egypt where they had been slaves for generations, bound an eventual settlement in Israel, the land of their ancestors. We often see this story through the lens of God’s deliverance or fulfillment of promises, but there are striking parallels between their early situation and ours. There were plagues. There was death. There was a rising sense of cataclysm, with uncertainty, political and economic conflict, and chaos. They lost their familiar social and physical environments. They fled with only what they could carry and were pursued by the Egyptian army. They didn’t know the end of the story. All they could see were the immediate circumstances-threatening and fearful.
Yet out of this story comes something remarkable. In Exodus and the several books following it, we see the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe choosing to relate personally not just with an individual or a ruler, but with an entire nation—rich and poor, high status and common, powerful and weak.
Never before in human history had this happened. God offered ways for the Hebrews, now “His People,” to connect with him frequently and regularly, both corporately and individually. His choice established the value of the individual and set the foundation for civil, social, and individual behavior that remains to this day. God introduces Himself in Exodus 20 this way: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” (NLT)
So what does this have to do with coronavirus?
God’s peace-provoking themes found in Exodus 20
When we pull apart those 19 words we find themes like this:
• You have value.
• I desire relationship with you.
• You are mine and I am yours.
• I am present.
• I am with you.
• I am for you.
• I understand your earthly struggles and problems.
• I will respond to your plight.
• I am good.
• I am powerful to change your circumstances.
• You can trust me.
What little I understand about the coronavirus is overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. What little I understand about the words of God are overwhelming and peace-provoking.
There is much to say about our current shared circumstances and many stories to tell. Over the next several weeks we will do just that. It’s appropriate to set a framework at the beginning, and I can’t think of a better one than this.
Here’s to defeating anxiety and staying healthy together…even if socially distanced for the time being.
How are you reacting to the current state? We’d love to hear in the comments below.
Resource to Break Anxiety’s Grip
No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety – as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and that we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.
We can discover true peace in an age of anxiety.
In Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others. She reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything.
She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip.