The saying, “be careful what you wish for” blares out in my mind this morning. For the season of lent I have been seeking help with worry. Now, this seems to be a recurring theme with me and every third lent or so I come up with a new path that will lead me from the wilderness of worry to a new future…that I can’t envision. So far it has made some positive impacts each time I go through the exercise, but I worry that my worry will be worse in the future as I worry about the past, worry about my worry in the future and worry that I will forget to live in the moment.
Matthew 6:25-34New International Version (NIV): Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Each day has enough trouble of its own indeed. As I move through lent reading this passage daily it seems that I am shown daily how little control I have over anything and everything. There is something in the world that seems to work for my good, the good of my family and the good of others…but that most of all is out of my control. In the end what is real is what comes out during tribulations each of us endures as part of the human experience.
Lucretius wrote, “So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off, reality remains (Book III, line 55-8).
We worry about times of peril and yet they are a necessity to test our own strength. Do we have it within us to persevere? Are we focused on what is important? Do we learn from the lesson at hand?
At the end of life if a life is well lived, we will have passed through enough trying times to tear away the facade we wish to portray. Daily people make their judgments on each of us. They think this or that and in reality we don’t know what they truly believe. How do their comments impact our action even though they likely don’t say what they mean and thus we can’t understand what they say. Old people are often blunt, sometimes mean and sometimes a joy to be around. Each of these individuals has chosen their reaction to life experiences. They have fallen and gotten up. They have messed up and moved on. They have continued a slow march forward when they felt they had no strength left to take another step. Slowly, methodically we pick up our foot and move it forward. What is left behind after these trials is the real human, the soul uncovered to see what lies beneath.
So far in this study, I have found that trials will come…and if you ask to be helped to overcome worry then you have to be prepared for the way that happens. So, I feel more overwhelmed than ever. More likely to fail at something important than I ever have, but I see the objective clearly. I know the path I should take…which boils down to the path I am on, but with my priorities set straight and a firm knowledge that for whatever I have the illusion of controlling, something far more powerful than I has some fashion of actual control. This power works for my good, the good of my family, the good of us all, so “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own” becomes an Epicurean motto translated to a Christian faith. To live in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future because one is written and the other is never as we imagine it will be. What I know and have any measure of control over is right here and right now. In this very moment I find grace, love, joy, peace and forgiveness if I choose to accept it.