“Let not your heart be troubled.” John 14:1 (KJV)
Do you struggle with this as much as I do?
Is there anything more human than being anxious or troubled? The minute we resolve one troubling issue, another pops up. As soon as we find out our biopsy is benign, our cousin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or a neighbor is in a terrible car accident. Just when we think life is going swimmingly, someone will speak to us with anger or judgment, withering our happiness and self esteem like a flower in the hot sun.
The disciples were anxious too
So how are we to deal with this very clear command from Jesus in John's gospel? “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Remember He was addressing this to his disciples just as He was explaining to them what was about to happen—that He was about to be arrested and crucified.
How could they feel anything but anxiety?
When others try to bring us down
Our beloved rector, The Very Rev. Alexander D. MacPhail, a Heartspoken Connection Messenger whose words have graced this blog before, addressed this head on in his wonderful sermon last Sunday. I hope you'll read it or listen to it in its entirety (links below), but I particularly wanted to share the last portion in which he reflects on those people in our lives who, consciously or unconsciously, cause us a high degree of anxiety because of the way they treat us or the hurtful things they might say to us. He gives such a helpful prescription for taking the high road instead of allowing others to bring us down:
I want you to think for a moment about someone in your life who is a source of anxiety for you. It may be a family member. It may be a friend. Someone who—despite all of your best efforts—increases your anxiety. It’s as if the thought of them, or the way they relate to you temporarily erases the awareness you have of God’s love for you. And you don’t know why. Somehow they just throw you off your game.
Pray for them. Regularly. Pray for them to feel grounded and peaceful and loved by God. It is likely that they are coming to you because you have the peace that they want. The anxiety is like a kind of money. They want to buy your peace with their anxiety. And what can happen is that you absorb their anxiety, while they take your peace. They might feel better; but you might feel worse.
They may be too anxious to believe that God really loves them. They are like Thomas and Philip, “Lord, show us the Father.” “We do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” And Jesus responds, “I am the way.” “The Father is in me, and I am…in him.” Our Lord also said elsewhere that the Father is also with you now by his indwelling Spirit.
Jesus responds from the deep place of his own peace, and instead of receiving their anxiety, he just gives them his peace. And greater works than these will you do. Because you, too, can do that.
Pray for them. Be receptive to the Holy Spirit. Believe there is enough love for you and for them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
“Believe there is enough love…”
Now that is a healing balm we can all use to calm our fears and still our troubled hearts. Thanks be to God!
To read the sermon in its entirety, CLICK HERE.
For an audio file of the entire sermon CLICK HERE.