Follow Me and Do Not Fear—Matthew 24
Read Chapter 24
Upon hearing about the chaos, darkness and destruction that will mark the end of the age, one by one, the disciples reveal their anxiety and fear as they approach Jesus privately. They ask big questions such as “How long, O Lord?” and “How will we know the time is here?” Jesus both reassures and challenges the disciples in his response—follow me and do not fear, but it will be painful.
As I write this today in the age of COVID-19, the time feels apocalyptic. Even as I wear a brave face for my children and those around me who are hurting, in the quiet times of prayer, alone with Jesus, I find myself asking different variations of the disciples’ questions.
How long, O Lord, until…
…the illness and death from coronavirus will end?
…separations will become reunions?
…we can worship, sing, and share the Eucharist together?
…the haze of anxiety blanketing our world will lift?
Today, we are living through birth pangs, and Jesus didn’t exaggerate…they are excruciating.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and gratitude expert, was recently featured on the radio broadcast On Being, where he reflected that with time and contemplation, we can see the connections between living through experiences of intense anxiety and transitions to new life. Living in a state of gratitude enables us to see the future opportunity while living through tremendous challenges.
Life-giving opportunities are being born in our midst—the resurgence of the centrality of family, compassion and empathy for our neighbors, a shift toward greater interdependence, healing of the earth, a slower pace and greater simplicity of life—can we see these opportunities? Will we grasp hold of them?
As I live in the awareness of my anxiety today, I am doing my best to embrace it as a companion on the journey. Following Jesus with courage, I am pushing back against paralyzing fear as I cling to God’s promises that our pain will be redeemed, and new life will emerge from death.
- What are your prayers and what life-giving opportunities do you see today?
- What does it look like to walk with your anxiety and follow Jesus in times of crisis?
God of All Creation, out of chaos, you bring order, out of death, you bring new life. Grant us a spirit of peace and a heart filled with faith as we seek to follow you, despite our anxiety and stumbles along the way. Amen.
Deacon Wendy Roberts, Minister of Discipleship at Morning Star in Matthews, NC, has been quarantined with her husband, Chris, two teens, Jace and Lauren, and rescue pup, Trixi. Together they are getting fresh air, playing indoor mini golf and preparing new recipes.