Author: Nicole Speer
Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. -Matthew 7:7
As someone who struggles with anxiety disorders, fear is a near-constant presence in my life. Without constant vigilance, worries that wouldn’t cross most people’s minds quickly become all-consuming for me, leaving me incapacitated by fear. In addition to therapy and medication, I’ve learned a lot of mental tricks to keep my anxiety in check over the years.
Unfortunately, my standard coping mechanisms have been failing for the past 4 years and, frankly, they aren’t working at all against the very real threats we are facing in 2020. As if rising authoritarianism, white supremacy, and climate crises weren’t enough, our country is now facing a global pandemic. There is a lot to legitimately worry about right now.
Consequently, a few weeks ago I was considering new ways to manage my anxiety while driving home. I stopped at a traffic light and glanced at the bumper of the car in front of me. Its license plate read “STLSPKG”.
I’m not sure if the driver intended for their plate to refer to God’s still-speaking voice in the world, but when I saw it I smiled at this reminder that God’s guidance is with us even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Given I was looking for some guidance at that exact moment, I said, “OK, God, I’m listening – what do you have for me?”.
Not 15 seconds later, I pulled up behind another car with a bumper sticker that read “Don’t be afraid.”
I laughed out loud. Touché, God.
Rather than telling me to singlehandedly fix my physiology, I think God was sending me the message that I don’t need to be afraid of my anxiety. The world is full of threats right now, and God has given me an overly active alarm bell to help me notice the places where I can harness my skills to try to make things better.
When I worry about racism in our schools, I can ask the school board to change their curriculum. When I worry about the rapid spread of a pandemic, I can seek out ways for my workplace to reschedule events and have people work from home. When I worry about how to save our democracy, I can knock on my neighbors’ doors to remind them of the importance of their vote.
Matthew reminds us that God demands action – we need to ask, search, and knock to have a chance of achieving the outcome we desire. It won’t simply land in our laps. In this time of crisis, may we all embrace our fears as our guides, leading us toward the actions that will bring about a brighter tomorrow.
Still-speaking God, remind us that our faith is a call to action. Help us believe in your path for us and give us the courage to act according to your will. Amen.