“Nothing in the affairs of men is worth worrying about.” [Plato, Republic]
“All worry is atheism, because it is a want of trust in God.” [Bishop Fulton Sheen]
“Take plenty of time to count your blessings, but never spend a minute in worry.” [Anonymous]
Our world is not as safe as it used to be, or as we thought it was. Yesterday the U.S. State Department issued a global travel alert, warning travelers about worldwide threats from al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIL. The alert stated that people unaffiliated with these groups may be motivated by recent terrorist attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey and Mali. Security is being bolstered for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We're being cautioned to exercise vigilance in public places or using transportation, to avoid large crowds or crowded places, and to exercise caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals.
Anyone who pays attention to current events can find multiple reasons for hand-wringing. There are so many hot-spots on the globe it’s a wonder the planet doesn’t go up in smoke. When we think the worst atrocity against the human race has already been committed, demon-possessed terrorists invent a new evil that makes us cringe.
You’ve probably heard about the office-worker who, when asked why he was tearing up sheets of paper and throwing bits on the floor, replied, “to keep the elephants away.” When the observer said he did not see any elephants, the office-worker replied, “It works, doesn’t it!” It is just as illogical to conclude that worry keeps disasters from happening. Trouble is inevitable, but trembling is optional.
Worry about contingencies changes nothing, and can ruin our health. There’s a better way to live—it’s called worship.
The name of Jesus is the hope of all the world [Matthew 12:21]. Listening to tomorrow’s hopeful melody, we learn to dance by faith today.
In a dangerous world, Jesus is our Refuge. Worshiping him, we are courageous. The vocabulary of fear is replaced by faith language--supposing is canceled by reposing. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” [Psalm 27:1,3,14 NLT]
In a deceptive world, Jesus is our Redeemer. Worshiping him, we are changed. In many ways, Jesus is the Man nobody knows, as Bruce Barton described in his 1924 book. In some ways, Jesus is the Man who changed the world—as reflected in history, philosophy, art, literature, architecture, government, law, ethics, music and religion. In the most critical way, Jesus is the One who changes us from the inside out as we worship him not just in church on Sundays, but everywhere and always.
In a destabilized world, Jesus is our Rock. Worshiping him, we are calm. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” [Psalm 46:1,2,6,7,10 NLT] There are three literary interludes in Psalm 46, marked by the word “Selah”--beautifully translated in the Amplified Bible as “Pause, and calmly think of that.” With God’s help, we can “keep calm and carry on” whatever happens in this unpredictable world.
In this worrisome time, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are blessed as we restate our faith by singing Jean Sibelius’ hymn—“ Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake To guide the future, as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
Johnny R. Almond
Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia