When we turn our world and our fears over to the true king of the universe, what does he give us in return? Jesus assured us, “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” (John 14:27, my emphasis).
All Christians, but especially students, need to be able to think critically and to articulate why things like free speech matter. The best antidote for fragility is the confidence that only comes from real preparation. That kind of confidence is the only way to avoid resorting to outrage as a strategy, and to instead follow the example of Jesus, Who is truth and love together.
How can we best navigate the anxieties and stresses of these days? Habakkuk’s testimony is one of my favorite paragraphs in Scripture. It begins by describing dire circumstances: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls” (Habakkuk 3:17). In his day, this would mean the loss of every means of sustenance. But the prophet responded: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (v. 18).
In a world full of adversity, we must refrain from being anxious. If we follow the call of Philippians 4:6-7, Jesus will protect our “hearts,” referring to our emotions, and our “minds,” referring to our thoughts. So long as we stay connected with our Lord, trusting every problem to him with gratitude for his grace, we can claim his promise in return.
To borrow a phrase philosopher Craig Gay uses in his book The Way of the Modern World, Westerners and Americans are “practical atheists.” A subtle, operational-level form of secularism, practical atheism is not necessarily to believe that God does not exist. Rather, it’s to live as if God does not exist. One major characteristic of “practical atheism” is anxiety. Anxiety is the inevitable reaction when we realize just how out-of-our-control this fallen world is, and how fragile our shoulders – which now bear the weight of the world without God – really are.