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Don’t Worry

August 1, 2022

Hillside where Jesus taught overlooking the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes;
the ancient city of Tiberius is visible across the lake.(DCR, January 2020).

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1

Next week’s Gospel lesson[1] reminds me of the song by Bobby McFerrin, sung by Bob Marley, “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.”  The first verse includes these sentences: “Don’t worry. Be happy. In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double.”  

Jesus said basically the same thing a couple thousand years earlier: “Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body. . . Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? . . . Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field . . . how much more he will clothe you—you of little faith” (Luke 12: 22, 25, 27-28).  

Notice that Jesus did not say do nothing.  He expects us to use our intelligence and other God-given tools to work, take care of ourselves and others, solve problems, create, inspire, et cetera.  He is simply pointing out that worrying about something beyond our control is counter-productive.  Worrying doesn’t solve anything: “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27).   Worrying is futile, fruitless, and faithless.  Jesus makes sure that the disciples understand that trusting God requires faith.  As long as we use the talents and resources that God has given us, he will provide.  Keep praying and keep the faith. 

God told Abram not to be afraid, that he would protect him and that he would have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky: “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward . . . Look up at the sky and county the stars . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15: 1, 5).  Don’t worry.  Keep praying and keep the faith.

The author of Hebrews names Abraham in a long list of Biblical figures who kept the faith in the face of adversity: “It was faith that made Abraham able to become a father, even though he was too old and Sarah herself could not have children. He trusted God to keep his promise. Though Abraham was practically dead, from this one man came as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, as many as the numberless grains of sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11: 8-11, Good News Translation).  Abraham kept the faith and trusted God.  

What is faith and how do we keep it?  Faith is having the confidence and assurance that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  We keep the faith by listening to what God says to us in his Word, and by talking to him regularly—we call conversation with God praying. 

The psalmist assures us that those who honor and trust God are on his radar 24/7.  He is our protector, and will see us through the difficulties we face in life.  His love never fails.  That assurance is the basis of our faith.  “[T]he eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love . . . We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:18-22).

The Evil One seeks to keep you focused on your problems.  He is hoping to run you aground.  He is hoping that you will wallow in despair, wring your hands, and cast aside all hope.  Let’s face it.  We become anxious when problems remain unresolved for months or years.  We are frustrated by incompetence.  We are irritated by the difficult people in our lives.  We despair that our ills will never be healed.  We are disappointed in our own failings.  We lose hope easily.  Change seems non-existent or incremental.  But God, your Father, has you in his sights, and he is not going to let you out of his sight.  You are his special child. He will never leave you.  He will watch over you.  He will get you through the tough times you are facing.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said that “the lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.”  When you allow yourself to be constantly distracted by your problems and challenges, you lose faith.  Don’t do that.  Keep praying.  Use your God-given intelligence and talents.  Then turn all of your challenges over to God who wants you to prosper.  Don’t worry.  Keep the faith and the tide will turn.

Prayer:  Faithful God, you admonished us not to worry, but sometimes we become consumed with anxiety about our families, our work, our schoolwork, our church and other organizations, the state of the country, and our past and future. Rescue us from worry.  Shield us from those who seek to do us harm.  Lift us from despair to hope.  Turn our eyes toward you. We know that you have plans to prosper us and that your love never fails.  Keep us focused on you, Lord.  Help us keep the faith.  Amen.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost are Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33:12-22; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-34 (35-40).

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