The Anxiety of Standing in Line

The Anxiety of Standing in Line

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people…” Psalm 85:8

Do you remember where you were when the Harry Potter books were first released for sale? It is a question we reserve for the most significant cultural events of our time. Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? Or, Reagan was shot? Where were you for the Challenger disaster or the 9/11 terrorist attack? Compared to these, the release of Harry Potter books seems a minor date in history. However, if you had children obsessed with Harry Potter, most likely this was an important date for you.

I watched with fascination as parents lined up to get the first shot at a book. The lines started to form in the early hours and often wrapped around the store. News crews rushed to the scene to cover the story and interview people. Children would describe their excitement, while parents had a difficult time hiding their anxiety, an anxiety of potentially waiting in vain for a book.

The crowds did not form when the first Harry Potter book was released. People needed to experience the engaging storyline before being enticed by a second book. J. K. Rowling did an incredible job of delivering on people’s expectations. She fulfilled a promise. Families flocked to stores with the confidence she would meet their expectations.

The part I never understood was the rush. Harry Potter was not a limited edition product. Seven days after its release, I had no problem walking into a store and purchasing a book. It did not require camping out, standing in line or the anxiety associated with these efforts.

Psalm 85 makes me feel like a parent standing in line to get a Harry Potter book. It begins by remembering a promise made and delivered. The psalm ends with a confidence about a future fulfillment. But in between the opening and closing is a time of uncertainty. I can feel the anxiety of the psalmist. It leaves me wondering if the past was good and the future is hopeful, why worry now?

The truth of the words is not confined to an ancient song. We live in between two realities, the promise of our past and the hope of the future. Our past, when looked at in its entirety, reveals our ability to endure, survive and thrive through all kinds of difficulties.

Most people are more hopeful than they realize. I would argue it is our present, the life spent in between the past and future, which most seeks to destroy our sense of hope. The anxiety of the present blinds us to the bigger picture.

Verse 8 reminds me why these reflections have become so important to me to write. And, I hope for you to read. In the midst of my present anxiety, I need to hear the voice of God speak a word of peace into my ear. It calms my soul and grounds me in hope. The peace I receive helps me endure the anxiety of standing in line.

Click to read: Psalm 85

Reflection Questions:

  • When has your life been consumed with an irrational fear?
  • How do you find relief from anxiety?
  • Where do you find yourself living in hope without realizing it?
  • Who speaks a word of peace to you? And, how does it shape your soul?


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