My psychology teacher at community college said that dreams are the mind’s way of dealing with things you didn’t finish thinking about when you were awake. I thought of his teaching on dreams when I read this:
A dream comes when there are many cares … . (Ecclesiastes 5:3.)
I rarely dream wonderful thoughts. Not that every dream is a nightmare, but they are often riddled with frustration, confusion and anxiety. Sometimes they take a familiar form, looking similar to what I’ve dealt with during the day. Other times they are completely foreign in their settings, only adding to my sense of disorientation.
So what am I to do with a verse like this:
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 5:22.)
Does God let my dreams shake me because I am not righteous? But Peter promised that God cares for me and that I should give God my anxieties.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7.)
And yet I am still subject to worry, anxiety, confusion. So again, what am I to do with this passage:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26.)
Why do I worry, Jesus? Because life is hard sometimes. Yes, there are times I worry needlessly, or over things that aren’t worth worrying about. But when I get a late night phone call about my dad being rushed to the emergency room, or the first I learn about a crisis at work that threatens my job is when a news reporter calls asking for comment, or my wife faces surgery over a critical condition and she’s the same age my mother was when she died from cancer, there’s not much my mind can do but go to worrying.
And having a passage like this one lobbed at me like a scripture bomb doesn’t help in the slightest.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7.)
Not in the slightest.
Worries with Jesus
Sure, I know I’m to cast my cares on Jesus. But I still worry and get anxious, confusion taking over and my mind shutting down from even the simplest of tasks. My body doesn’t help matters any, refusing to sleep and eat, leading to illness (I am sure that catching pneumonia a few years ago was a result of my body being worn down by worry, unable to fight the infection before filling my lungs with too much fluid).
One thing I know about Jesus, though, is that he’s never left me. In the 34 years I’ve been a Christian, he has kept his promise:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20.)
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5.)
But the burden of life can still be a crushing burden. So yet again, what do I do with this:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.)
This is the passage that gives me hope, even when I feel the weariness and burdens that lead me to feel worried, anxious, confused.
Why hope? Because Jesus says that no matter what I’m dealing with, he is not going to make it any harder. In fact, he says he’ll make it easier than it would be without him by my side.
I’ve learned to trust him in this. Sometimes I am alone and he comes alongside me and settles my mind. Sometimes he brings me people to come alongside me and prop me up. Either way, it is a fulfillment of this principle:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
God comforts, and leads people to comfort those around them. He does this by coming alongside us, and bringing people to come alongside us as well. This is literally what the word translated “comfort” in this passage means. It could easily be translated as
“… the God of all coming-alongsidedness, who comes alongside us in all our troubles, so that we can come alongside those in any trouble with the coming-alongsidedness we ourselves receive from God.”
This is where I’ve found the ease of Jesus’ yoke, of him being at my side. At times it is – as Jack Tempchin put it – a peaceful easy feeling. And other times it has been – as Ringo Starr sang – getting by with a little help from my friends.
In both ways. God has seen me through. Does this mean I am done with worry and all that goes with it?
No, but I think it means I’m done with worrying about worry.