First, living by faith does not mean ignoring your fears or anxieties. It helps to remember that we are complex beings with feelings and thoughts at multiple levels all at the same time. If your body wants to eat candy but your will wants to lose weight, neither choice would be made by somebody other than you. You are not your more authentic self if you give in to a temptation, but you also don’t become somebody else.
If you live by faith and there is change and decay and chaos all around you, you should not be surprised if your body and soul feel anxious.
That does not mean you should feed the anxiety. It just means you should not feel like it proves you don’t have faith. Maybe it keeps you focused. If your decisions are made out of anxiety alone, that will feed it. That would not help.
But if you look to God for guidance and confess your anxieties to him while you do so, you might find that your anxiety leads you to the humility that is the sine qua non of faithfulness.
You might reply by saying that the Bible tells us over and over again to be anxious for nothing, not to worry, etc. And I agree with you. You should not be anxious. But if you are, you should not be surprised or ashamed of it. You should just think, “Bummer, I’m not holy yet. I don’t have perfect faith yet. Lord have mercy on my soul and guide me to that perfect faith.”
And then go on. Sometimes the best thing to do with anxious thoughts and feelings is to let them flow away like water down a duck’s back. Don’t dwell on anxious thoughts, but don’t fight them either.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” So how do you acknowledge Him when the anxiety is infecting all your thoughts.
I recommend keeping it very simple: Look to the temple!
Or, to put it more directly, place yourself before the mercy seat or the throne of grace and say one or both of the eternal prayers prayed there:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty,
which has variations such as “worthy is the lamb who was slain,” or “you are worthy because you created all things.”
Lord have mercy
In my view, the prayer of the publican in the temple is perhaps the ideal prayer, and we can complete it by adding our Lord’s name when we say it:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me the sinner.
Keep saying this until it becomes the prayer of your deepest heart. Don’t forget that in this prayer we find the fulfillment of the promise that Peter quoted from the prophet Joel:
Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
Peter shows that the name of the Lord is Jesus Christ, that if we call upon Him we will be saved.
So during this time of crisis, perhaps that is the most perfect prayer and the first step to peace.
One thing I particularly love about this prayer is that you don’t have to work hard with your mind to remember it or even figure it out. It’s simple, but as you repeat it it penetrates into your spirit.
So just say it over and over again until it becomes the prayer of your heart. Other thoughts that come from your mind or even senses might be valuable or not. Sometimes they might offer you insight.
But for at least a few minutes each day you might want to just sit still before the throne and let your spirit commune with God through this prayer, repeating it over and over and letting all other thoughts arise and drift away.
If you have to spend a good bit of time alone but you are a socially oriented person, or if you lost your opportunities to be alone and you cherish that time, this prayer can help you either way because it unites you to God when you are alone and when you are in a crowd (of two or more!) you can go within yourself and find space to meet with God.
A few other quick thoughts about living by faith in a time of crisis:
It does not mean testing God.
It doesn’t mean demanding a best case scenario from God.
Sometimes it is harder to live by faith after a crisis than before or during.