I have thought about the heaviness of heart I have carried of late.
The sorrow for those who suffer. The tears for those who weep.
The fear and uncertainty, the panic and insecurity.
I have thought about the things in which I have sought security.
The security of a brick house at the end of a quiet and secluded cul-de-sac.
The security of a monitored alarm system in our house.
The security of a steady and generous salary for my husband's hard work.
The security of good health and strength.
The security of a sound mind.
The security of having obtained a good education on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The security of friends, family, and neighbors that care and look out for us.
The security of a strong economy in a strong nation.
The security of believing that our elected leaders have the best interest of our nation and our world at heart.
The security of believing that if we, the people, express our opinions and desires to those in authority over us that they would give serious consideration to our requests and suggestions.
The security of believing that most people are most likely going to be good and kind and just and fair to and respectful of each other.
In the past few years, every one of those security systems has been tested.
Every one of those security systems has failed the test.
Curiously, I have not been as shaken up by that realization as I would have been ten years ago. I have not been as surprised as I thought I would be.
Certainly, my heart has staggered through heavy days and heavy weeks. My heart and spirit have been heavy with the sorrowful realization that there is so much suffering. So much fear. So much insecurity. In me. Around me. Around the world.
And then I remember - again - that none of those things,
neither my body, nor my house,
my money, the government, our nation's military complex,
my intellect, my friends, my family -
not one of those things is capable of providing me with security.
My faith, my hope, my trust,
my security are not found in things or people.
My hope is in the Lord God of the Universe.
In His love, in His grace, in His mercy.
I ask the same questions that so many others ask: If He is God, if He is in control, why is there evil and poverty and war and so much suffering in the world? Why doesn't He stop the tornadoes and fires and floods?
I hear and ponder so many answers:
* Most of the suffering in the world comes at the hands of those of us who walk the planet. Our greed, our callous indifference to the needs of others, our intentional and repeated decisions to pollute, destroy, abuse, and neglect each other and the earth have led to much of our suffering.
* We want to live our lives on our own. We want to have our own way. We want to be free to reject God altogether. Many don't believe God exists. We have been granted the freedom to believe whatever we want about God. So then why do we blame someone that we repeatedly reject and don't believe in for not making our lives easier?
* On the other hand, if God exists and He has the ability to control everything that happens to us, perhaps it is a sign of His great love and mercy that we haven't destroyed one another and this earth completely. We have certainly tried to. Perhaps it is His almighty hand that holds back even greater sorrow and suffering.
* If the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is true, if it is true that God somehow became a man and walked this earth and died at the hands of the very people He created, then perhaps His love for us is far greater than we can imagine.
Perhaps when Jesus said things like -
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me... Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.
Do not worry then, saying, "What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear for clothing?" For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek His kingdom first and all His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow.
I tell you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart - I have overcome the world.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest
Perhaps when He said that stuff, He was talking to and about me. He meant for me not to be surprised at what I see happening in the world these days. He meant for me not to worry. He meant for me to take leave of my fear and worry and to feed the hungry and give water, clothing, and comfort to those who suffer. He meant for me, for us to answer the pleading of people around the world who wonder what they will eat and drink and wear.
And He meant for me to find rest and peace and security in Him.
Because there is no security in stuff or in people.
Ask anybody in China whose stuff and loved ones are under the rubble.
Ask anybody in Rwanda and Darfur who left their stuff and run for safety.
Ask anybody in Kansas whose stuff was sucked out of their homes by a raging river.
Ask anybody in California whose stuff has been consumed by a wild fire.
Ask anybody who has lost a loved one to misunderstanding, unwillingness to forgive and be reconciled, divorce, illness, addiction, or death.
Ask anybody who thought they could change or fix themselves; ask me!
I can only rarely control my own tongue, thoughts or emotions.
Try as I might to alter my circumstances and my reactions to them
- and I do try - much of my life is outside of my control.
There is no security in stuff.
There is no security in people.
There is no security in me.
What else or Who else is left?