Monday, October 6, 2008
Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.
This was last weeks reading in Church. In these times with the news reports of the economy in a daily crisis mode, it is no wonder that people get anxious. And even when there is no national emergency on the agenda, it is easy to get overwhelmed in your daily life: whether at your job, amidst the children, the demands of ministry of family, of friends...
Sometimes it seems as if everything threathens to fall over us like a giant cresting wave.
Be not afraid runs like a red thread through the entire bible. One of my favorite quotes is the following:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:26-28
This peace is not a denial of fear, nor a promise of a worry free existence. It doesn't mean: you don't need to do anything, God will not let anything touch you. We know of many Godly people who have known great suffering. In the bible we can immediately point to Job but just looking around you may show you several wonderful people who are living the Word and following the Holy Spirit through a very difficult path, whether it is illness, job loss, depression, family tragedies... or all of those.
Is "let not your hearts be troubled" then a command that we need to follow? Or is it more a fatherly reassurance that despite our fears, He will still be there. God does not promise us an easy path, He promises that He is there with you. In a way this is reflected in the promise we give at our wedding day. I recently saw a wedding on tv where the couple had written their own vows and the groom vowed to the bride that he would make her happy all the days of her life. It was very sincere and heartfelt, and certainly well meant, but I could not help but thinking... that is not a promise he can make. What if something horrible happens? What if they have a child that dies... what of the day when they lose another loved one... what of the day she loses a job, or they have a fight... he will not make her happy then. But what he can do is ... be there. He can promise to be there always, he can promise her that whatever she does, whatever life throws at her, he will be at her side.
Marriage here on earth is almost an analogy of the relationship between Christ and his Church. His "do not afraid" is not a false promise of an easy, happy days life. It is a promise of the simple happiness of knowing that whatever happens, in Christ, you are not forsaken. His name "Jahweh" simply means "I am".
Amidst our worries and working, it is wonderful to stop and stand still, thinking of His forever presence at our sides.