February 25, 2008

What are You Anxious About?
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
John 20:29

I spent several evenings with my twin sister awhile back, helping her care for her 20-month-old son while she endured a difficult, second pregnancy. In the quiet hours of one particular evening - when Jeremiah slept soundly in his crib and her waves of nausea had temporarily subsided - we found ourselves musing on the hopes and anxieties of life.

As I struggled and vacillated through a fear of mine, Liz said rather pointedly:

"You think if this one uncertainty is resolved, and most importantly - resolved in the manner you prefer - that life might get a little easier. But, it doesn't. There is always something we can potentially fear. I used to worry I would never marry. Now that I am married, I worry something will happen to him. Now that I have a child, I fear harm coming to him. Now that I am pregnant, I fear these complications. At some point, we come to a crossroads, and we must decide what to do with the uncertainties of life or we will meet an early grave."

There's nothing quite like a sister when it comes to telling it like it is. So, how can I deal with the simple fact that life is uncertain, that happiness isn't always guaranteed? Walk around gloomy, anticipating the worst? Live in a fog of mild depression?  These options don't appeal to me.

In my struggle to deal with the anxiety-producing, gray areas of life, I stumbled across a Baptist Press article titled Adoption, Suffering, and Birthday Grace by Russell D. Moore, a dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Moore, clearly a man of faith, revealed his struggle to maintain this faith in the face of the incredible uncertainty that comes with infertility. On the day his adopted sons were born in a country far away, he shares "I was feeling sorry for myself. After years of infertility and miscarriages, it was only my faith, not my sight, that told me that God was for me and not against me."

How often have I wondered if God heard my prayers? Moore probably pleaded for children in his prayers countless times, unsure if this would ever come to pass. What a gift that, years later, he could see how those small moments of flickering faith resulted in such a beautiful ending: the adoption of his sons.

But he didn't stop his brief tribute to his sons with a simple story where his wishes came true. He saw this trial and triumph as an experience that points to an even greater truth:

"Five years ago I didn't know that the greatest joys of my life were already here, and yet not quite here... Perhaps I need to be reminded of that when I allow the worries of the present age to overshadow the glory that is to come. Perhaps I need to be reminded that while I bemoaned my situation five years ago, my children were waiting all the while. And, right now, as I consider the worries of the present age, there's an empty tomb in Jerusalem, the first installment of the glorious kingdom of Christ."

Imagine how Moore may have acted differently had he known his beloved sons were being born that very day. Can we dare to believe that even as we feel the sickness of hope deferred our joys are "already here, and yet not quite here"? Can we possibly hand all our worries, hopes, and desires over to God, trusting that if we don't get what we want today, He still has amazing plans for us? Coming from a relatively privileged background, it's been hard having the curtain pulled back on the Great American Oz - the weak little ad campaign that says that through our own efforts, we can create a paradise right here, right now. But once the curtain is pulled back, we are free to accept today's uncertainties as we trust in the One who brings joy and security beyond this world.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  (2 Co 4: 17)

Intersecting Faith & Life: So often, we exhaust ourselves worrying about things that are trivial in light of eternity. Whether your worries are big or small, hand them over to the Lord this week, trusting He hears your every prayer and cares for every detail of your life.

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 2:9
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
The Dreaded Question: What is God Teaching You?