Does Knowing God Help?
Paul Kemp, Alumni, Bachelor of Sacred Music, 1985
Anxiety, depression, and worry are no longer just an understandable by-product of the pressures and strains of adult life and management in today’s world, but rather, have become a part of a swelling, paralyzing burden in the lives of children and young people.
Pressures of achievement, despair of society and its ills delivered so swiftly through modern technology, financial pressure, relationship strain or loss, bullying, loneliness, climate fears, and general disillusionment are but a few of the underlying contributors. These have recently become amplified as the world struggles with a menacing and persistent pandemic that has impacted everyone, inflaming every aspect of human personality from the most heartwarming to the most hurtful.
My heart aches for those who are suffering through this time, most tragically expressed in their despair of live, even contemplating or attempting to end it. Sadly, many of those among my acquaintances, friends, and family have experienced this pain. As a Christian community, pastors and parishioners alike are not immune from the malaise.
Does knowing God help? Does including him in our worldview offer any meaningful assistance? Has the steady removal of a God-centered existence by secular society contributed to a growing pandemic of anxiety? My observations and convictions cause me to answer “yes” to each of these questions. I believe the essential component in any response-strategy for anxiety—personally or in society—is HOPE. Within a godless worldview, this becomes a challenge to provide, although secular psychologists recognize it to be crucial in the recovery/coping process.
In searching for Scripture references addressing anxiety, I was impressed by how many times God and the voices of the Bible address this topic, and by how many individuals, even the great prophet Elijah, found themselves at times overwhelmed with despair. Of significance is the prevalence of passages regarding anxiety, coupled with responses from God. This clearly and repeatedly brings recognition of his care as our Father, through his potent words of encouragement and empowerment, the promise of his empathy, and his ability and readiness to intervene and remedy the most painful experiences. Possibly the most meaningful verses to every troubled soul are verses that tell of his miraculous offer and the assurance of relationship with himself, our creator.
Through God’s words we learn, or are reminded of, the immovable truth that he is in control of everything great and small, time, the universe, and the world in which we live. We read that he is the determiner of every nation and their leaders. He is the Sovereign One who permits only what he wills in the impact of war, disease, or pandemic. He is the one who limits the power of the Evil One in the earthly realm.
Most importantly, and perhaps of greatest tonic for our souls, is the promise that he knows our name, counts the hairs on our head, and is closer to us than the next breath we breathe. These is no one who escapes his eye, his hand, or his heart. With this knowledge and reality of God’s love and care for us, we must live our lives on a horizontal plane, interacting with the necessary realities of our lives, both good and bad, holding each other’s hands to achieve the best version of life we can bring. Without him, we become like orphans running from the orphanage, unaware of the offer of adoption.
By believing and receiving the truth of God’s awareness and aid, we make our journey with the knowledge that he walks with us through every pathway, whether valley, plain, or mountain. He will never leave us. We are not promised freedom from pain, disappointment, or despair; however, we are promised the hope of his presence for the journey and the prospect of heaven as our final destination.
Christian songwriter, Tommy Walker, shares these encouraging words:
I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands
He knows by name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
God knows your name. It is my sincere prayer that being aware of God and his promises will bring that crucial hope into every aspect of life we experience. As Alumni, let us embrace the promise of hope for ourselves and be its voice to each one around us.