The Lord is Near
It’s been two months. The youngest pixie has a cough that will not break. After two rounds of antibiotics, three stents of steroids, things start to look a bit more tricky. Why are the antibiotics not working? Will she need to continue on the steroids? When will she sleep through the night again?
Every mama knows, the tricky thing about coughs is that they show their worst side at night. Sleep eludes the weary cougher. Tiredness is a incubator for anxiety.
Since she was a baby, whenever Zion has had a cough it sounds like the worst-case scenario. For such a tiny thing, she wallops good.
Although she’s had coughs that linger in the past, this one just refuses to go away. I grab the cough bottle and read the warning label: “a cough that lasts longer than a week can be a sign of a serious condition.”
And the anxiety creep in.
Anxiety is no respecter of persons. It rears it’s nasty head to the best of us. We all have those things that cause us to lose sleep at night: a job that is rocky, a prodigal child we pray will return home, an ailment that just won’t go away. For some of us, anxiety is more of a struggle than it is for others.
Max Lucado, in his book Anxious For Nothing, describes anxiety like this, “Anxiety and fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one. Fear screams, Get out! Anxiety ponders, What if?”
We have all asked the question. What are the what ifs in your life? The imaginations that are keeping you up at night?
What if I don’t get that job promotion? What if my son doesn’t improve his GPA? What if we lose the house? What if that cough is the sign of something more serious?
I’ve been wrestling with the what ifs. And so, I began meditating on a passage of Scripture that is dear to many:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8)
There is so much to unpack in this gem. It’s our go-to verse so often when anxiety threatens to cripple. Although I’ve clung to it before in the past, what stood out to me this time around, was the verse immediately before. Tucked away in the preceding verse is a phrase that makes all the difference in the world:
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4:5)
Two concise sentences, loaded with truth. The very last thing Paul says, before he instructs his readers on how to deal with anxiety, is “The Lord is near.”
It is the presence of the Lord in the midst of our anxiety that changes everything.
We are not alone. We have a God Who is Emmanuel, God with us. In the midst of this valley you walk through, filled with dark shadows and hollow roads, there is a Shepherd whose presence is traveling beside you. The Lord is near.
Over and over again in the Scriptures, the Lord comforts His people with His presence.
To Moses, God assured, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14). We can actually find rest in the middle of our anxiety because of the confidence He is near.
Zephaniah wrote, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.” (3:17) In the midst of this thing that is causing your anxious heart, He is right there, ready and able to save.
The Psalms remind, “The Lord is near to all who call on him.”( 145:18). If we call out, He draws near. Our cries for help are heard from the One who is only a whisper away.
Because the Lord is near we are to be anxious for nothing. These two verses are to be read together. Knowing this truth should have a direct impact on our lives. We view our circumstances differently through the lens of His presence.
His presence is our peace.
We met with the pulmonologist last week and began our third round of antibiotics. This time around, I’m prescribing to a renewed theology: practicing the presence of the Lord. When anxiety creeps in, I am not alone. In every situation Emmanuel is with me. This is where I gain the confidence to shed anxiety.
The Lord is near.