Dread is real. And it takes a toll on our mental wellness.
On March 12, 2020, New York Times Opinion Columnist, David Brooks said, “Some disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes, can bring people together, but if history is any judge, pandemics generally drive them apart. These are crises in which social distancing is a virtue. Dread overwhelms the normal bonds of human affection”. And to think, Brooks wrote these words before the economic uncertainty, social disharmony, and the national election really heated up.
Dread is a specific kind of fear that expects the worst. Even the most positive person experiences a sense of dread over something. Dread is real.
The good news is that Jesus finds himself in a world of dread - and He does something about it. Think about it:
I can only imagine how dread-filled people living in a dreadful moment received Jesus’ words.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life… Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life… your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (selections from Matthew 6:25-32).
But, Jesus - don’t you see that we are in dreadful times? I sometimes feel like I’m losing my mind. We seem to be moments from chaos. There are rumors of food shortages. Families are divided by ideologies and opinions. It seems as if the world is falling apart. Protests and riots have become the norm. Injustice and discrimination is rampant. I’m not sure about taxes, but morale seems really low right now - and there is a whole lot of debt out there. Dishonesty, disloyalty, and dis-everything seems to be more of a character trait among leaders than integrity. And when it seems like the world needs leadership, we find ourselves in a vacuum.
Jesus responds, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33).
You mean, you will give me everything I need to get through this dreadful day?
Jesus gently speaks, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).
Perhaps surprisingly, Jesus doesn’t eliminate dread. Instead, Jesus gives us a better alternative than to fixate on our dread.
When our minds are consumed with dread, Jesus gives us everything we need to live with dread. Jesus lived through one of the most dreadful human experiences - not just abuse, being bullied, and humiliated - but crucified on a cross. Jesus experienced the worst: death. Jesus also comes back to life to tell us about it.
Indeed, we can find respite for our tired minds in Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
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The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.