Dear Editor:

We are living in challenging times. As people of faith, how should we respond?

First, we should realize that challenges are part of the life of faith. For example, the ancient Hebrew people wandered in the desert without food and water. Our Lord Jesus Christ, even though he was divine, struggled with anxiety in the Garden of Gethsemane as he faced his own crucifixion. Imagine going without food or water, or contemplating your own violent death. These are terrible challenges, far worse than the challenges facing most of us today in the United States.

Second, we should see life’s challenges as opportunities to deepen our trust in God. We might learn to direct our attention to God by taking a break from sensationalized news coverage. We might practice trusting God by refraining from negative, self-defeating talk. And we might make it a daily mission instead to notice and thank God for even small blessings in our lives.

Third, we can be Christ’s presence to someone who needs us right here, right now. Reach out via phone or Facebook to neighbors who are frightened or isolated. Run an errand if you are able. Post prayers on Prayer Warriors of Carroll County, our new Facebook page.

Finally, if you feel overwhelmed, talk to a pastor. If you do not attend a church, please contact any member of the Great River Outreach or Interchurch Council. Our names and contact information are listed below. We all belong to different denominations but we are united in the only thing that matters — that salvation comes from trusting in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened or dismayed. For the Lord is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9)

Pastor Gary Panetta, First Presbyterian Church, Savanna (815-590-1792); Pastor Joey Garcea, Savanna First United Methodist Church (815-656-0362); Father Moises Apostol, St. John’s Catholic Church of Savanna and SS. John & Catherine Catholic Church of Mount Carroll (815-979-8316; email; Parson Bob Stark, First Lutheran Church, Mount Carroll (815-244-8044); Pastor Narda Alvelo, Cristo La Luz (815-757-5990, email

Pastor Gary Panetta