Queen Esther standing before the Lord crippled by her own anxiety, dripping with beads of sweat from that very anxiety. Dressed in black; the clothes of mourning, her voice cracking as she prays to the Lord. This very sight is a sight that is not easily dismissed for me.
I find myself thinking of all of my friends and family who too suffer from anxiety and/or depression. I want to take the pain away for them. I want to make things better. I do my best to pray for them and to reach out to them; to let them know they are not alone. Yet I wish I could do so much more because I hear and see the ways they are paralyzed by the anxiety that attacks them when they least expect it.
Anxiety brings about a darkness that one cannot easily shake. A darkness that is also evident as we journey to the cross and stand below the cross watching Jesus; a crown of thorns on his head, hanging on that cross. Night falls and soon we hear Jesus’ own words “I thirst” and “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” And then Jesus’ breaths his last as he is crucified on Good Friday.
In his final breath, I cannot help but think of the anxiety that must of penetrated in that place as Jesus’ followers waited to see the prophesy fulfilled. Jesus would die, but three days later he would rise; reminding us that life not death; light not darkness has the ultimate word. Charles W. Hall says, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”
This ultimate word reminds us that when our bodies are paralyzed with fear, God is with us. That when we are crippled with our own anxiety, waiting to find any way out, God is with us then too. That when it feels like we are being handed over to the enemy, God is standing right there with us too.
Trusting in that promise, I find myself crying out to our God like Queen Esther “O my Lord, you only are our king: help me, who am alone and have no helper but you, for my danger is in my hand.” (Esther 14:3-4 from the Apocrypha). Yes, there are more days than not that it feels like our anxiety and fears are paralyzing us from getting out of bed or speaking our own truth yet the reality of the cross is that love, light, and life ultimately win. Some days that is easier to trust than others. But at the foot of the cross, God sees each of us standing there and hears the cries of God’s people; the cries of each and every one of us.