Thursday, March 14, 2013

ANXIETY

What's the forecast for tomorrow? or the rest of the week? or the rest of my life? Sunny? Clouds? Chance of storms? Severe weather?
The art of Praxis, of making our faith reality, is nowhere more tested than in the way we think about tomorrow. Some people seem naturally to be glib about tomorrows that are bound to be difficult: Franklin Roosevelt said that, during the Depression and World War II, at the end of the day he put on his pajamas and slept soundly.

Others of us are inventive in concocting reasons to be anxious. In our uneasy, dicey culture, most of us suffer at least mild and perhaps crippling anxiety. In Jesus' first sermon he said "Do not be anxious about tomorrow," and in Paul's last letter he echoed that thought. But telling myself not to be anxious only makes me more anxious!

The antidote to anxiety is... hope? Hope isn't mere optimism, that sunny disposition that everything will be better tomorrow. Tomorrow might actually be harder. Hope is about God, trusting that God has things well in hand, that maybe not tomorrow but ultimately God will bring everything to God's lovely conclusion, and all will be well.

Last year at the beginning of Lent, I shared Lauren Winner's quirky suggestion that we give up anxiety for Lent. For that to stand a chance, we have to be poised to substitute something for anxiety when it seeps into our heads. Her suggestion was to be armed with a prayer, or Bible verse or two. We printed little cards at the time, with this on one side:

O God of peace, who taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: by the might of your Spirit lift us up, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God.

and this on the other side:

Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner... Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me.

If you are prone to anxiety, carry such a card, or something around, and try hope in God, a worshipful posture in the throes of the real bedeviling of daily life.

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