So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless. Ecclesiastes 12, verse 10.
Words are a God-thing. They really are. Yesterday I wrote about happiness and how it’s a blessing from God, a by-product of contentment in Him (and letting Him actually do what He does best in our lives). It’s hard to be happy when you’re anxious or worried. And worry is a sin.
All week I’ve been anxious. My laundry list of anxiety includes my mom in the hospital, finances, Christmas shopping, work and a project that’s behind schedule, meetings at my son’s school, a two-foot stack of ironing, and a host of brushfire concerns about even more minor things. The situation with my Mom has me especially anxious. I can honestly say I’m not worried, but I am frustrated and anxious because every time we seem to have a plan on what to do, it gets dashed by something unforeseen and I’m left groping around on where to go next. I’m not worried about where to go or anything that happens next, but I do feel that anxiety and frustration. Maybe this is natural when you have an older person in your life whose health is in rapid decline.
Banishing anxiety is easier said than done. To be honest, my inability to banish it from my heart is a failing of mine, maybe even a sin if I let it take control of my heart or determine my thinking. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet, even as I’m whip-sawed by events that affect me but are outside of my control. I want to do what the verse commands: I’m simply finding it difficult to get done.
What helps is prayer. I haven’t hit my knees this week, but I’ve talked with God a lot. I know He’s at work in all that’s happening, and I trust that He is doing things or allowing things that will be used for good as we go along. When I pray like this, I feel better because I’ve taken my burden to Him and involved Him in it, let Him take control of it (because, ya know, He was in control of it anyway). This doesn’t make the problem go away – if only it would – but it makes handling it better and easier. That’s the point, right?
Are youth and vigor meaningless? You bet they are. My kids are decades younger than me, yet they’re affected by the things happening in our family and they have anxieties too. The families and friends of the people murdered in Connecticut last week are young and old, yet all are affected and made anxious by being caught up in this evil that happened among them. I think about when my Dad died in 1997. My oldest child was closest to him, so she was best able to grasp what had happened. My youngest child was still a toddler and didn’t understand what was happening. My middle child, though, was almost 5 and she was, I think, most affected. If you talked with her about Pocka dying, she got quiet, or even walked away. It wasn’t that she was indifferent or uncaring. She was simply processing the death and her anxiety about it in her own appropriate way. A few months later, out of the blue, she remarked that her Pocka had died and he was in heaven now. Youth and vigor are meaningless because anxiety, crisis, and sin affect us all equally.
In the end, all the stressors in my life are still here. My mom isn’t much better and, to be honest, isn’t likely to improve much in the weeks to come. Finances are constantly tight, but that’s nothing new. Christmas will arrive in four days whether I’ve finished my shopping or not. Work will still be there whether I’m onsite or not. You get the drift. Through it all, God is still on His throne as the active Savior God of this world. He is still engaged in all that happens around us, and He is still working through these things to demonstrate His love and draw me closer to Him. THAT is the real point of it all.