Across the Pastor’s Desk: Survival verses for anxious times

Published 8:00 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ken Jensen

Recently, I woke up feeling exceedingly anxious. I hadn’t experienced the intensity of such feelings for years. Had I been dreaming?

Kenneth Jensen

If so, what had I been dreaming about? A world on fire? The Israeli/Palestinian conflict and war in Ukraine could easily spiral out of control. Political dysfunction? Economic uncertainty? The reality of growing old? I had no idea.

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Anxiety is the result of fear, especially fear of the unknown. Some seek to numb their feelings, succumbing to a wide range of addictive alternatives. Others seek escape in recreational activities or their work.

If anxiety persists as a chronic condition, one may need professional help to uncover its source. Memories buried deep within the past are frequently the reason why we are prone to worry. Only when we face our “demons,” whatever they might be, can we begin to heal.

Whether our anxiety is temporary or chronic, we have a tool in our toolbox to calm our fears. I call them “survival verses” – brief, biblical passages which we can draw upon when faced with stressful situations. I personally believe it explains why people of faith, statistically speaking, tend to live longer than the average life expectancy.

Two, among several of my favorites in the Bible, are Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” and 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares about you” (NIV).

I credit taking tools such as these out of my toolbox (among other survival verses), for calming the sea of my anxieties.
In his poem “Invictus,” Ernest Henley concludes: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” If that were the basis of my spirituality, chances are I would remain anxious.

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.