“Write it on your heart that every day
is the best day in the year ” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
St. Augustine is renowned as being one of the world’s greatest preachers. He wrote hundreds of his sermons which he preached for thirty-four years in his cathedral in Hippo, North Africa during the fifth century.
Almost every one of them holds a message that makes sense to us even today. One of his sermons began with a list of life’s problems. Shouldn’t we worry, he asks, when we live in a time of anxiety? Shouldn’t we worry when we remember that Scripture says: “Man’s life on earth is a time of trial?”
Shouldn’t we be anxious when we pray every day: “Lead us not into temptation?” Or when we remember what Jesus said: “Watch and pray that you will not be put to the test?”
Yes, suffering from negativity is a horrible feeling. But as mere mortals, we can’t escape it. It is all around us. It is a fact of life that a human being is the only one of God’s creatures who worries. Trees and animals don’t have that problem.
Our main sources of worry are: ‘We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.’ ‘What’s going to happen to our world in these times of pandemic and warfare?’ ‘How are we going to pay all our bills?’ ‘How are we going to solve all our problems?’
So, we worry because we are helpless victims of an unknown future. Yet Jesus tells us: ‘Do not worry about tomorrow!’ Admittedly, it is very difficult to feel optimistic living as we are in the midst of escalating personal and worldly anxiety.
There are countless problems which haunt us constantly: financial problems, personal problems, psychological fears and insecurities and so many more. Early Philosophers believed that we are essentially insecure because we are ‘contingent creatures.’ Everyone worries at some time or another and no matter how hard we try to control it, it can become an all-consuming nightmare.
The problem is that most of us do not realize we are under siege until worry has become deeply rooted into our psyche. I read somewhere that worry is like a rocking-chair; it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere! There are so many things in life that we cannot control and so we despair.
Many people struggle to be happy because they are born worriers, or because they feel easily discouraged, or lonely, or simply because they are too afraid to allow God into their lives. No wonder people ask that eternal enigmatic question: “Where is God in all this?”
Mother Theresa said shortly before her death: “When I see God, he has a lot of explaining to do.” Maybe she now has some answers. The rest of us will have to remain patient!
Ironically, most of the things we worry about never happen. That is why worry is mostly a waste of brain power and energy. Eliminating our worries, of course, is easier said than done. Mark Twain came to this realization when he said: “I am an old man now and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened!”.
The best way to cope with our anxieties is to lose ourselves in prayer. Not the sort of prayer that tells God what he has to do in our situation. No, we need to pray so as to reassure ourselves that we and our problems are all in God’s loving hands.
Spiritual mystic, Blessed Julian of Norwich summed this thought up beautifully: “When the soul is tempest tossed, troubled and cut off by worries then it is time to pray.”
Prayer is one of the greatest antidotes against our recurring problems. Throughout his life, Jesus continually told the people: “Do not be afraid. Do not be anxious. Do not be worried. I bring you tidings of great joy”!
Unfortunately, we too often forget to put our trust in God mistakenly believing God is on leave. The essential message of Christ’s life was always Peace. Peace in our world, peace in our families, and especially peace within ourselves.