Unprecedented Time in our Modern World
By Broc Jahnke
Broc is the Lead Care & Support Pastor at Hope Fellowship in the Frisco and McKinney area. Hope Fellowship is committed to giving us all hope during this time. Broc is also the co-host of the Mindful Marriage podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts.
As far back as I can remember, worry has accompanied me like an uninvited friend that continually misses the social cues that it’s time to go. In college I worried that I would never get a job after school, that I would never find someone to love, and that I would never be at peace with myself. I still worry. Whenever I get called into the boss’s office, my first thought is that I have done something wrong and the hammer is about to come down. I worry whenever the house doesn’t feel warm enough because obviously the heater has gone out and now we’ll have an expensive repair on our hands. As you can see, worry just doesn’t grab onto those hints that it is time to leave.
And now, here comes an unprecedented time in our modern world. COVID-19 is spreading across our globe, the future is uncertain, and worry is no longer the friend that stays too long—it is the friend that wants to move in and sleep on the couch “just for a few days.”
Several years ago I started to realize that I was not a broken human being because of my worry, but that I was a human being in need of some new guidance, a human being in need of some new behavioral patterns, and a human being in need of a new perspective on life. I needed a new way of thinking about things, because the current model was not as effective as I hoped it would be.
Admittedly, I have always been a theology junkie. I love to study how people throughout history have thought about God. Recently, in conjunction with my theological brain, I have become sort of a psychology junkie as well. I guess you could say I am now a “psycho-theology” junkie. Wait, that may not be a great term to describe me… but for the sake of time, let’s go with it.
In that pursuit, I have become fascinated with cognitive behavioral therapy. In very simple terms, if you can change the thoughts in your brain, then you have a great chance of changing your behavior. I believe the Bible puts it this way. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). If somehow I could find a better way of shaping my thoughts, then maybe worry wouldn’t have so much power.
In my opinion, a proper understanding of God and worry sounds something like this: God is faithful, God is powerful, God is ever-present, God is all knowing, God is compassionate, and God is aware of our needs. If I can keep my focus on those truths, then it seems like I can handle whatever comes my way. Read Matthew 6:25-34 for my full perspective.
So my battle is not trying to control my world so that nothing goes wrong—it’s about keeping my mind focused on the right things in the midst of things that are out of my control.
If you’re worried during this uncertain time, you’re not alone. However, we most definitely need to change our thinking patterns to get through this. Here are some things to try. Go on a walk and look at the birds and trees and remember the words of Matthew 6. Start saying some prayers of thanksgiving (all the blessings you see around you). Listen to more worship or uplifting music (music has great power to direct our brains). Do something nice for another human being (it’s amazing how powerful that can be in our battle against worry). And limit your news and social media consumption.
Worry may not pick up on the cue that it is time to leave, but we can lessen its effect on our lives. Finally, make this prayer of serenity a daily part of your life as you put our focus on helpful things: