Do Not Be Anxious

Easter Service lights at the Crossing - 4-8-23 (Credit: YouTube/The Crossing)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7. 
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Remembering not to be anxious — and actively putting that into practice — is no small feat, particularly these days. Even if one is not immersed in “the news” 24/7, the reality that we live in trying times is difficult to escape.

Of course, humans have always lived in trying times — since the Fall. It’s what necessitated Christ’s sacrifice. As we celebrate His resurrection this Easter Sunday, I wanted to share this invaluable reminder with our readers.

I attended my church’s Easter service on Saturday afternoon as I work Sunday mornings and then have plans for brunch with my family immediately following. As usual, the service was moving and uplifting.

At one point, the pastor asked the congregation to hold up their cell phones with the light turned on — not to simulate a concert setting, but to make a point:

But if you would, just everybody turn your phone lights on in each of our rooms now. Go on ahead and hold those phones up. Light makes a difference, doesn’t it? I mean, without light, there is no life.

Now, what I’m going to ask you to do, as we go through this now, is I’m going to ask you a series of questions, and if you can answer “Yes” to — just even one of those questions, then turn your light off. Now you don’t come back in later — once your light is off, it’s off.

So in each of our rooms now, let me just ask this question:

  • Has anyone lost someone they loved this past year? Just turn your light off.
  • Anyone going through a health scare in the last year?
  • Anyone dreading that next doctor’s appointment?
  • Anyone worried about money?
  • Anyone lost their job in the last couple of years?
  • Students, anyone here ever been bullied? Maybe bullied online?
  • Or maybe something really bad’s happening at home?
  • Anybody here struggle with addiction? Depression?
  • Anybody in the last year or so experience anxiety?
  • Anyone here have a loved one who’s so far away from God and you’re so worried about them?
  • Anybody here have a haunting regret that you can’t shake?
  • Anybody here read a headline or two and wonder how you’re going to make it in this world?
  • Anybody here hear something on the news and you start to worry about your kids, or your grandkids, or this world that you’re heading into?
  • Is there anybody here who’s tired?
  • Is there anybody here who’s lonely?
  • Is there anybody here who’s just so worn out with the ugliness and anger of this world?
  • Is there anybody here who would say: “I don’t think I have all the answers”?

You see, I’m going to tell you that in a world without God, things get dark. I think there’s a reason Jesus died in the dark and darkness thought it had won.

But there’s a verse in Isaiah that says: “Those walking in the darkness will see a great light.” And you know what? It happened. The Gospel of John says that there was God’s true light coming into the world. And by the time you get to Chapter 8, Jesus himself at the temple says, “I am the light of the world.”

And just so we’re all clear, light always triumphs over darkness…Amen?

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The message continues to build from there — and I’ll get to that in just a moment — but something happened during that illustration that really struck me and I immediately knew I needed to share it here. You see, as the pastor listed each of the burdens we might be carrying, a light or two — sometimes a handful — went out. But when he got to “Anybody in the last year or so experience anxiety?” a whole bunch of lights went out at once.

So many of us are living in an anxious state. As I noted at the outset, it’s difficult not to be as we observe all the brokenness around us. But we must remember: The darkness does not win.

There’s a reason that the resurrection happened at dawn. You know what happens at dawn? The light pushes the night away. You know what that means? If the resurrection really happened, then Jesus wins and Jesus will stand at the end and Jesus is the one who’ll have the last word over evil and injustice and anger and heartache and death — and everything that we worry about — it’s Jesus. And He will gather His own and He will restore. And we will see Him in all of His glory, we are told.

And there’s a verse at the end of Revelation that says: He will wipe away our tears — and that’s it! No more!

And I get it — I get it — some of you are still saying, “Do you really believe that?” And the answer is: YES — a God-glorifying, death-defeating, Christ is risen YES. Am I saying to you that here and now that we’re immune to hurt and to heartache and to death and disease? No — I wish I could tell you that — not yet.

You see, the book of Romans says that “night is far spent, dawn is at hand.” Do you know what that means? It means that the dawn has broken, and if you’ve ever been up early enough to see this, even as the dawn is breaking, there are the last shadows of night that are hanging on — but it’s only a matter of time, because light always defeats darkness.

So, in this in-between time, how are you and I supposed to live? If you follow Jesus in this broken world, how…like…what…now what? I say let’s cling to the hope that Jesus is enough. I say let’s remind each other that Jesus is enough. I say, as we do this together, that we love and worship, and proclaim that Jesus is enough.

I say that we live like the dawn has already happened because it has. I say we, together, remind one another, in so many different ways, that He is the King of Kings and He is the Lord of Lords and He is the one who can take History to its completion. And until that glorious day when we see Him face to face, let’s live like children of the dawn — let’s love, let’s serve, let’s laugh, let’s even grieve together with this hope in mind.

And for those of you who trust Jesus, do not settle for anything less than the power of the resurrection, for you are sons and daughters of the King. And now, maybe now, you’re ready — here we go: He is risen. He is risen indeed. 

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He is risen. He is risen indeed.

A blessed Easter to you all.

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