For Those Who Worry About the Future

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? Do you ever feel so paper thin, like a house of cards one blow from caving in? Do you ever feel already buried deep? Six feet under, scream, but no one seems to hear a thing?

I sure have.

And silly pop songs aside, I’m sure you have as well.

We seem to worry about everything. We worry about jobs and careers. We worry about our friends. About our family. About being alone. About our health. About our happiness or even just our own sanity.

Sometimes it’s just a mild nervousness. Other times it’s a crippling anxiety where you can’t sleep, can’t eat, and can’t function. Somtimes it’s somewhere between those two.

For me, as a younger person I seem to watch all my friends get engaged and then married and then have kids. I see all this happen around me and it becomes easy to wonder whether I’ll be left out of all this. It feels like sitting by the side of the road, watching everyone else drive by. There are different people going different places, but you’re sitting there watching the cars and the people pass in front of you. Stuck where you are.

So many people are terrified about their future. They worry about making it into the right school, finding the right field of study, finding the right job or career. They’re terrified about measuring up. Measuring up to their parents’ expectations. Measuring up to other people’s expectations or even just measuring up to their own expectations. They worry about what they’ll become. They worry about repeating the mistakes of their parents, realizing too often that they often have the same issues and tendencies. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.

It seems to be one of the facts of human life: We are blind to the future. No matter how much we’ve experienced, how much we prepare, how hard we try, the future is always a mystery. And we never really know what lies around the corner for us. And so we worry.

And as much as we try to comfort ourselves with mantras like “living in the moment,” “don’t worry, be happy” or even Jesus’s own “do not be anxious for tomorrow” (Matt 6:25-34), we still always worry about the future.

But the good news is that we are not alone in our worrying.

Yes, there are other people around us who also worry about the future, just like us. But I’m not talking about them. We are not alone in our worrying because God himself has also experienced the same.

Before Jesus went to be crucified at Golgotha, he went with his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane, at the Mount of Olives, to pray. Luke records what happened there in chapter 22 of his gospel:

And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

-Luke 22:40-46

If you ever think that Jesus wasn’t afraid of what he had to face at the crucifixion, that he faced it with some kind of stoic divine indifference, then look no further than his words, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” Jesus, in a sinless way, does not want to go through with it. He knows what he’s going to have to do. He knows the torture that he’s going to go through. He knows the weight of all the world’s sins that are going to be placed on him. He knows the estrangement he is going to feel from his father. And knowing this, knowing that he must drink the cup of God’s wrath[1] he fears.

In fact he feared so greatly that according to Luke he sweat blood. This is a real medical condition known as Hematidrosis which often afflicts people under great stress, especially before being executed. When we think about the suffering of Christ, we often think of everything he experienced between his trial and actual death. But we shouldn’t forget the agony he went though just because of the sheer anxiety of looking ahead to the cross. In other words, yes Jesus shed his blood on the cross, but don’t forget that he also shed his blood before the cross just from worrying about the future.

My point with all this is that you are not alone when you worry about the future. You are not alone because the eternal God and creator of the universe has experienced the same kinds of fears you have experienced when you worry about the future. The Son of the Father knows what it’s like, not just because he knows everything, but because he himself has actually experienced it. Furthermore, when Jesus feared for his own future he faced his fears and won the victory of sin and death. He did not recoil and run away, but he submitted himself to the will of his father and won your victory at the cross.

This is why you are free to do as Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Not because you don’t have to face tomorrow. You do. But you get to face tomorrow knowing that the victory is won and no matter what happens, nothing can take that victory away.

Everything is going to be okay.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:35, 37-9

[1] See Isaiah 51:17ff and Jeremiah 25:15ff.

 

Image: “blindside” by Lauren Rushing CC

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