In Luke 21:34 Jesus warns that we need to be careful and guard against three things that can make our hearts drowsy. The direct quote is,
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life,
Ok, I can avoid carousing pretty easily. As it is used in this verse, carousing refers to overindulging. It could be food, sex, alcohol or other distractions. Honestly, I am not a big carouser. But even if I was, I don’t think this warning from Jesus would surprise me. No carousing, no problem.
Drunkenness? There is really no surprise that Jesus warns against that either. How many great life choices started out with “I was so drunk. . .” So, avoiding drunkenness, check. I think for most people, it is this last item that becomes a little sticky. “The anxieties of life.”
Life is full of anxieties. We worry about work, about money, about relationships. If you are a parent, you worry about your kids and their health. It is easy to worry about our nation's politics, or about the ongoing scandal in the Church. Anxiety seems like it is just part of the human condition. How do we stop doing that?
Jesus speaks a little more on this subject in Matthew’6:25-34. You can get a taste of it in verses 31-33.
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. (Matt 6:31-33)
It is worth reflecting on that passage as we consider this week’s Gospel from Luke. Jesus emphasizes the Father’s love and providence, and makes the point that all of the worry doesn’t actually do any good. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” The truth is that most of the anxieties and fear we carry around are based on either things that already happened, or things that will most likely never happen. Rather than grasping at life, trying to wrestle our own security, Jesus challenges us to find our security in the Father’s love,
Our lives are not supposed to be full of worries, but instead, we live out our faith by trusting in God’s faithfulness. Does that mean that we don’t work? Of course not. We do our part, working hard and improving ourselves and our children. We don’t, however, fall victim to the lie that we are on our own, and that it all depends on us. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us. He is faithful.
The distraction of world anxieties can be a severe spiritual challenge. It is easy to become so focused on all the stuff we need or have to do that instead of just putting our heads down and moving forward we can become paralyzed. Instead of giving glory to God in and through our labors, we can become bitter and cynical.
This week Jesus reminds us that worry is not of the Lord. Our call is to work, to strive for holiness in the Lord, and to trust that God is working for our good. Our call is to live our lives in anticipation of Christ’s return so that when he comes, he will look upon our faith, and a people who have been made ready.