Over the weekend, I led a Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry retreat in Spokane, WA. It was an amazing experience. I personally witnessed the healing power of Jesus Christ as He comforted people who have struggled tremendously to overcome anxiety. What’s amazing is that I’m not a therapist or a psychologist. I’m just a guy who talks about Jesus. After spending decades trapped in a prison of worry, I encountered the Lord and He granted me peace. Now, I make my career introducing others to my friend Jesus and the results are astounding!
After traveling home from Spokane, I arrived back in Philadelphia after midnight and went straight to bed. Because of the travel, I took the day off from my morning radio show and woke up just before my weekly “Be Not Afraid” appearance on Catholic Community Radio in Baton Rouge, LA. I had a verse all picked out (relating to the anxiety caused by pursuing wealth) and I was holding the phone in my hand getting ready to go on the air when my wife whispered to me, “There’s been a shooting in Las Vegas and 50 people are dead”. I was stunned and immediately knew that I had to shift gears. As I went on the air, this is the Bible verse that came to mind:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
As I began to speak, many questions raced through my mind. What could I possibly say about the senseless murder of nearly sixty innocent people? How can I calm the nerves of those who fear a future attack that might affect them? Where is God in this? Who is to blame? How can it be prevented? And then, because I always pray to the Holy Spirit before my radio interviews, I remembered what happened over the weekend.
I watched several individuals approach Jesus, many for the first time. They encountered Him through prayer, the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Scripture. There is no doubt they were hurting. Everyone at the retreat was desperately looking to stop worrying. Some could no longer work because of their anxiety. As the retreat leader, I shared the story of my own battle with anxiety and discussed various Scripture passages aimed at soothing anxious nerves. More importantly, I told everyone present that all of my words would be meaningless unless they did one thing – go to Jesus. Even though I am well known as an authority on overcoming anxiety, Jesus is my secret weapon. My peace comes through Him. When we encounter the Prince of Peace through the Bible, prayer and the Sacraments, something powerful happens.
After sharing the Bible verse and some comments on the radio, I turned on the news and watched a commentator state that the police need to find out why the gunman did what he did in order to prevent it from happening in the future. It was obvious that he was trying to ease the viewers’ anxieties, but I questioned whether this was a realistic approach. Could this have been prevented? In an attempt to do my part to comfort those who were anxious, I signed on to Facebook to post the above Bible verse and here’s what I saw:
The massacre happened because the country is divided and there’s too much hate.
What happens if this turns out to be terrorism?
Why don’t people get this upset about abortion?
It’s a gun control issue.
This is another sign that the world is coming to an end.
After posting the Bible verse from Psalm 23, I logged off of Facebook and did some business related work, but I felt that I needed to say more. People are reeling from this event and I’m the “worry guy”. I need to give them hope, but I didn’t know what to say. Then I once again thought of the weekend.
As I witnessed at the retreat, Jesus is the answer. Not only can He heal our anxiety, but He can help the situation. Close to sixty people died unexpectedly and faced the Lord in judgment. They need our prayers, as do their families and all who were affected by this terrible act of violence. Prayer can also help to unite the country and bring about peace. In addition, prayer can deliver peace in the midst of turmoil and suffering. Spending hours watching the gory details of what took place in Las Vegas will not calm your nerves or help the situation, nor will venting on social media. Turning to Jesus in prayer will be a much more productive use of your time. If you need additional evidence, I suggest that you take a look at what St. Paul wrote while sitting in a Roman prison. Turn to Jesus and ask for His help. You will find peace.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)