"Peace be with you."
I end my discussion on anxiety the same way I began. I started out saying I am by no means an expert on the subject of anxiety but simply wanted to share some of my personal experiences in hopes it might be of some help and encouragement in the midst of some rather anxious days. I bring my discussion on the topic to a close with the same sentiment. I’m still not even close to knowing all the ins and outs of anxiety, or anything else for that matter! After years of personally struggling with anxiety and fighting to be free from its grip, I still fight to maintain that freedom, refusing to be held captive by it again. I’m still learning and discovering new and better ways and means to overcome anxiety and a whole host of other things in my life. But I think that’s it, at least for me. I have realized the battle is real and something I will deal with the rest of my life. I will never “arrive” at some magical point where the threat of anxiety doesn’t exist for me. I will never be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and be able to declare it “over and done with.” Not in this life! And certainly not with satan constantly on the prowl! Do I walk it out perfectly every single day and in every season of my life? NO! But, thankfully I have a God Who is gracious and kind and One Who catches me as I’m falling or, when I’ve completely fallen on my face, He gently lifts me up, brushes me off and sets me on my feet again. So, I leave you with one final word of encouragement regarding anxiety. It’s something the Lord just showed me less than a week ago. When I say God still has me in the classroom, I’m truly not kidding! It’s from a passage I’ve read and heard messages on many times before but, this time, it jumped off the pages of scripture and hit me fresh and new. I love it when that happens! And I want to share it with you in hopes it encourages you as it has me.
The passage is John 20:19-22:
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
These verses begin by describing the setting. It is still resurrection day, but it is evening. The disciples are literally hiding behind closed doors in fear, afraid they might be killed for their association with Jesus. To be sure, it was a legit fear. Then, Jesus shows up and stands in the middle of their little gathering. And what is the first thing He says to them? “Peace be with you.” Jesus met them exactly where they were at—hiding in their fear and confusion. Jesus then takes the time to prove to them it really was Him and He really was alive by showing them His hands and His side. The miraculous truth began to sink in. Jesus really was alive and was standing right there with them!
With all of that settled, you would think Jesus would then have a word for them in the way of rebuke, at least a little bit. “Didn’t I tell you?” “Why didn’t you believe Me?” “What are you doing hiding?” “Why are you so afraid?” But, Jesus didn’t. He again speaks to their fear, the thing that had them cowering, closed in and immobile. (Sound familiar?!) Jesus once more says, “Peace to you!” Certainly, now would be the time to begin some sort of chastisement and repentance discourse! But no, Jesus simply states this is not where they are to be or what they are to be about. He reminds them of their calling as His disciples. “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Okay, NOW comes the discipline. Nope. Even while they are still behind those doors that were shut by their fear, Jesus empowers them for what’s He has called them to do by giving them Holy Spirit! Really?! Sure, extend grace, but power too?! As they are hiding in fear?!
I love it! I love that Jesus enters into wherever I am, no door is too much for Him! I love that Jesus meets me where I’m at rather than waiting for me to get where He would have me to be or where I need to be! I love that Jesus speaks a much-needed word directly into my situation, and will even repeat it to make sure I got it! I love that Jesus doesn’t recant His promises or His calling because I don’t or can’t measure up or meet certain standards of faith or obedience or belief. I love that Jesus withholds nothing from me in order for me to be and do what He has called me to! I absolutely love it!
While these few verses tell the story of something that happened thousands of years ago, they still speak and apply to us today. The truth found in these verses are truth for us as we are locked down with anxiety. They are truth in the midst of a pandemic. They are truth for whatever circumstance we are facing. Jesus is there. Jesus cares. Jesus has a word and that word is PEACE!!!