taking the words of Jesus seriously

This is another piece in the series I write for First Christian Church, Portland. I respond to questions about faith and theology in (hopefully) simple, straightforward terms. If you have a question you’d like me to take on,  email me and I’ll do my best.

Where does your faith fit in times of chaos and uncertainty?

As a professional author and perennial contract worker, I’m getting kind of used to uncertainty. But I also get thrown off by unexpected things, probably more so than the average person. I like predictability, stability…we all do.

But life doesn’t work that way.

A fellow author once posed a question which helped put a lot of the things I stress about into perspective, when she wrote, “How much of what you’re obsessed with today will matter in 100 years?” It’s true; sometimes we get so short-sighted that we forget that, in the grander scheme of things, what is plaguing us today won’t really matter too much either way tomorrow.

Related: Confusion and Certainty About God

There’s a Buddhist saying I like that takes this on too. It says, “If there’s a problem and there something you can do about it, don’t worry about it. If there’s a problem and there isn’t anything you can do about it, don’t worry about it.”

The point is that worry and anxiety over outcomes gets us nowhere. And as Amy, my wife, reminded our church in a recent sermon, our own expectations – which are little more than premeditated resentments –  are actually at the source of much of that stress, even more than the circumstances themselves.

Personally, when I’m getting wrapped up in the chaos of the moment, or in stressing out about my inability to force reality to align with my expectations, I try to remember a part of the prayer that Jesus recited when he was more or less freaking out about his imminent crucifixion. Talk about stress! And yet, these simple words helped him stay grounded and focused on what really mattered.

Not my will, God, but Yours be done.

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