My Dear Parishioners,
This week we continue with the topic ‘Putting our worry to work.’ I n his book, The Good News About Worry, William Backus wrote about his brother-in-law, an athlete who was in the hospital recovering from surgery. The procedure was successful, but he remained in danger for the next 24 hours. He was worried! As an athlete he had always been able to make his body do whatever he wanted. But when he told himself that he needed to stop being anxious and stressing himself, he just couldn't. The more he told himself to control his anxiety, the worse it got. Then it was as if God spoke to him, “Who’s in charge here?’ “You are ,” he answered meekly. And as that truth and commitment came to his mind, peace flooded his heart.
We have to believe that God can carry our burdens. The cares of life that weigh on us so heavily need to be placed on the shoulders of God. In the best sense, He is more concerned than we are about our health, our work, our friends, our family, and our nation. The Almighty God helped David kill the bear, the lion, and the Philistine giant (Goliath). He protected him from the murderous rage of Saul. He kept him safe in enemy territory. Perhaps that’s the reason David could write, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved”(Ps.55:22). But how do we give our burdens to God? How do we place them on His shoulders and leave them there? The answer to that is not in what we are doing, but in what we are believing at any given moment. Are we trusting our feelings? Or do we believe, on the basis of what we see in the created world around us and on the wisdom of the Bible, that the Lover of our souls is an all-powerful, trustworthy God? Do we honestly believe that worry is the best way of honoring Him? Or do we really believe that letting God lift our cares one moment at a time is the best way for us to trust Him?
But what if our fears might be rooted in past experiences or medical conditions that are beyond our ability to understand or control? The answer does not need to be contrary to our faith. If we sense a need for medical help or a wise counselor, this may be God’s means of helping us. The God we serve is the God of all creation and can use a wise counselor or doctor as part of His provision as He helps us trust Him in the middle of our worries. We need to admit that God is greater than our fears. Worry is how we express our fear of failure. We’re afraid of the consequences of what lies ahead: What will I hear from the doctor? Will my house be able to withstand a hurricane or an earthquake? Can my country survive the economic downturn? When we think about it, worry has been around for a long time. It began in The Garden of Eden. As understandable as it was unhealthy, Adam and Eve hid from God among the trees and covered themselves with leaves. They were rightfully afraid of the consequences of their choice to eat the forbidden fruit (Gen.3:10).What would God do? Later when God asked why they were hiding, Adam said, “I was afraid.” In retrospect, we can now see what our first parents could not. Even after they brought so much loss upon themselves, if they had admitted their wrong and thrown themselves on the mercy of their good and compassionate God, it would have been a better response than worrying and trying to hide form His presence.
Knowing that God is a good God - that nothing evil can originate in Him, helps drive away fear, even when we have sinned. David knew God’s goodness and love by experience. That’s why he could tell us that even when he was in the darkest valleys of life, he feared no evil (Ps.23:4). In Ps.31 he wrote of terrible life experiences - being forsaken by his friends, and attacked by his enemies. Yet he could say, “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord” and “My times are in Your hand.” We too can use worry as an opportunity to find in the Lord the reason to say, “Therefore we will not fear” (Ps. 46:2). We all need to trust that He can sustain us. While writing of war, famine, and evil men, David said that those who trust in God shall be satisfied (Ps.37:19). The simple meaning here is that they will not tremble or be shaken. In the midst of the legitimate concerns of life, we need not quiver with fear. Why? Because God can sustain us by His power. So the next time that you start to be overcome by worry, turn to God and remember that (1) He’s in charge, (2) He can carry your burdens, (3) He is greater than your fear, (4) He can sustain you, and (5) He will never leave you.
With all good wishes and prayers Fr. Chris