As the world’s worries come closer | Religion
Sleep escaped me last night; the worries of the world are closed. I tried to pray. I tried to count my blessings. I tried to get up and read. When I finally fell asleep, I replayed some disturbing news footage and woke up exhausted.
Coming out in the cool of the morning, the blue sky promised a beautiful day. I soaked myself in the golden morning light in the hope of a new spirit. Beauty was everywhere I looked and yet I found words of William Wordsworth that crossed my mind.
“The world is too much with us, late and soon
By obtaining and spending, we waste our powers;
We don’t see much in the Nature that belongs to us;
We gave our hearts, a sordid windfall! “
I guess it’s human nature to want life to be easy. When not, we assume that something is wrong with us, that we somehow lack enough intelligence, energy, willpower, resources, creativity. We have come to believe that if our faith is strong enough, God will reward us with power, prestige. and possessions. Then when bad things happen, we are stumped. How could this happen to us? Are we not the chosen people of God? But, what if living is not a good life, but sharing what we have so that others can also prosper as the Bible teaches?
We are taught to be courageous, but not vulnerable. We are taught to take what we want without thinking about the impact of our actions on others. We are taught that white people are somehow better than others. We are taught “strength does good”. As a result, we have lost our ability to keep pain and discomfort, love and attention close to our hearts without being destroyed. We have come to define freedom as being able to selfishly say and do what we want when we want to. Yet the consequences of economic inequalities, racism, sexism, etc. live in constant fear.
When we choose comfort and privilege for a few over reconciliation, cooperation, forgiveness, and problem solving, we don’t just exacerbate our existing problems, we become the root of the problem. The more we trust that God will fix all things if we share our resources, knowledge, emotions, and experiences, the more peaceful we can live with friends and strangers. Perhaps the reason God allows so much suffering and pain is that we need to frequently remind ourselves that life is not about accumulating power, prestige, and possessions, but constantly being a Good Samaritan in everything we do. After all, it’s the times of danger and tragedy such as the devastation of Hurricane Ida that we temporarily let go of our differences and come together to help and share what little we ourselves have? And so, as the Bible tells us, “In everything, give thanks.
Cut the ties that bind us to our fears, faults and mistakes, O Lord, as we release the threads we hold from the guilt of others. Don’t let things on the surface distract and fool us, but free us from what is holding us back. Make us truly thankful that we can see as you see, hear as you hear, and love as you love. Amen
Joyce Shutt is Pastor Emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church.