Real Mission: Worry Worry Worry
A few years ago, a good friend of mine gave my son Teil a little children’s book with an ominous title. It was called, “Where is God?" t’s tiny colored carboard pages take a little boy on a journey of hide and seek, as he searches for God under skillfully placed paper folds and pop-outs. The little boy looks in all of his most beloved and familiar places: in his toy chest, under his teddy bear, and behind his curtains.
“Where is God?” the little boy asks on each successive page, until in the end, the answer is the same as it was on page one. Nope, God’s not there under the teddy bear. Nope, God is not hiding in your cereal box. Nope, God is not in a flowerpot.
This book raises my anxiety. Where is God? Why can’t we find her? What if God is not there? This book is downright cruel. Immediately, I suffer. It’s a children’s book, so God has got to appear at some point, right? Eight pages. No God.
Finally, on the last page of the book, the child who is searching is pictured, and sure enough a hide and seek window is placed just over his little heart. Finally, on the very last page, God is found. “Where is God?” it asks. God is right where God has always been. Inside of you and me.
We keep the book.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been wandering around for weeks, or months, or even years asking: “Where is God?” Where is God when all hope seems lost? Where is God when people are losing their jobs and their homes, and the country is torn apart by political allegiance? Where is God while hurricanes decimate towns and wildfires incinerate homes?
Where is God? Could it be that the children’s book is right? Is God as close to us as breathing? Is God inside of you and me? Is God right there in our hearts while we search high and low to find our Creator?
God, I hope so. And as it turns out, all that we really have is hope. Hope is what keeps us searching, keeps us questioning, keeps us believing that God will redeem us all.
A life of mission is a life that calls us to give an account for the hope that is within us. Mission asks us to seek inspiration from Jesus and live with the hope that his way, the way of love, will bring life again and again.
In the Gospel, people come together from faraway places to be near to Jesus, the one who brings life, and health, and peace. They draw near to one another to be made whole. They come with hope in their hearts. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for health. Hope for life. Hope for peace. The Gospel is a place for us to meet and be inspired by people who have hope.
Conversely, worry, I think, is the greatest hindrance to hope. We worry about everything. Well, at least I do. What if the work doesn’t get done? What if he gets sick? What if someone steals it? What if the sun doesn’t rise? What if he gets too close to the edge? What if she drinks too much? I waste so much time worrying. And often, I forget that our God is a God of hope.
Worry, worry, worry. It’s so easy to do. And problems like pandemics make it even easier to worry. What if the schools don’t open back up, and I have to homeschool these kids forever? What if he doesn’t find a new job? What if she’s not able to feed her kids? Worry is easy. Hope is harder.
Jesus has some words for us on the subject:
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. -Matthew 6:25-35
So, we have no trouble coming up with a long list of things we could worry about; but why should we worry? What good can come of coming up with dozens of alternatives for worst-case-scenario? By the way, if there were a prize for creativity in this arena, I would be winning, big time.
After years of perfecting the art of worrying, I have come to the conclusion that all that worry is really good for is increased suffering. Now, I don’t mean to sound flippant, it’s human nature. We suffer unnecessarily almost as often, if not more so, than does actual suffering occur on account of an external force. The Buddhists admit that suffering is inevitable. But the Christian asks, what is suffering good for? If we must suffer, what can we learn from it? If we must worry, what can our imaginations teach us?
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. -Romans 5:3-5
Worry, I believe is the antithesis of hope, but much like the shadows, without them, we fail to see the light. So, go on and worry a little. Maybe for eight pages or so. But just know that at the end of the book, God is there. And hope is not lost.
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