A longing for peace is at the core of the human soul; following closely behind a longing to be loved and seen. Yet peace is often one of the most difficult things to find; especially in our society today. Is it any wonder that God uses the word “peace” over 300 times throughout Scripture? John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Then just two chapters later Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” God knows our chaos, and sees and understands the deepest longings of our souls.

Three years ago, our lives were turned upside down by an insidious, confusing illness that quickly turned into a worldwide pandemic. While COVID was physically devastating for many, it also left emotional scars that created fear, anxiety, and anything but peace. Research shows that anxiety and depression have increased by 25% worldwide since the onset of COVID, and most therapists report a significant increase in clients seeking therapy for anxiety. This has been true as our own pastoral staff has sought to provide care for people in our congregation as well. Not all people experience anxiety in the same way; the impact and degree of anxiety can vary. A diagnosed anxiety disorder is a serious matter that may need further medical assistance. If this is your situation, please reach out for help.

Some though are dealing with a level of anxiety that while debilitating, with some assistance, could be guided towards a more healthy and hopeful direction. There are many tools to overcome anxiety. As stated earlier, Scripture is full of guidance that can point us towards the peace that Jesus offers. Another tool is called a “Breath Prayer”. When anxiety hits, it is often difficult to reverse its effects, unless you are prepared to do so. A breath prayer consists of around 5-10 words, established and memorized ahead of time, that can calm your spirit, redirect your focus, and serve as a reminder of God’s never ending peace. Some examples are: “Jesus, you are my peace”, “God, you are in complete control”, “Lord, you keep me in perfect peace for your mind is set on me.” (Is. 26:3), or “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33). This spiritual practice of a breath prayer can take the fear, doubt, and anxiety that our world throws at us and put it back in its place.

Whether it is the lasting impact of COVID or the real every day chaos that we encounter, anxiety that intends to divert our attention away from Jesus can be overcome. Spend some time today prayerfully considering a breath prayer. What is God bringing to mind that will help you in your time of need? Write it down, tape it to your bathroom mirror and be prepared when anxiety strikes. Jesus, is your peace!

Lynette Fuson

Care & Counseling Director

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