Strength for Nervous Times

A good friend of mine told me a while back that he’s been dealing with an anxiety about life and the world. Not so much depression as just a general concern for himself, his wife, and his children living in a world where criminal violence and natural disaster are sometimes a weekly phenomenon.

Many of us, as we age, feel our nerves a bit more strained than when we were younger. A “little pill” to “take the edge off” is common for many.

I think much of the angst comes with the feeling that life is out of control. We feel overwhelmed with problems so much bigger than any one person can fix. What makes us nervous?

How about these?

  • Four hurricanes in six weeks (total destruction of Puerto Rico)
  • North Korea and “Rocket Man”
  • The Opioid crisis
  • Broken government in Washington
  • Two Americas: the Haves and the Have-Nots
  • Global warming (and the furor it brings in even discussing it)
  • Charlottesville, Las Vegas, Isis and about 10 other current messes.

These are the global tensions. Then there are our personal struggles with health, finance, relationships, raising children and grandchildren, our own aging, etc. Any one of these can strike at the heart of the peaceful lives we want to live.

So what do we do? How can we live peaceful, hope filled lives in the face of these overwhelming problems? Space is limited here so I’ll be brief.

Here’s what helps me. See what you think.

  • This is a fallen world. Bad things are going to happen. We are all afflicted with an impulse to selfishness and animosity. Spread this out amongst 5 billion people and there’s going to be trouble. (Mother Nature also seems to share mysteriously in our bondage to frustration. Read Romans 8:22).
  • Christ told us that while we live in this fallen world there will be a suffering for each of us. In fact we make up in ourselves “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ”.

    “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12.

    In other words, we’ve been told these things would happen – – let’s look now for what gives us hope in the midst of these trials.

  • This hope comes to us in the fact that Christ has been raised from the dead. As we share in his sufferings so shall we share in the joy of his Resurrection. “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33
  • While we live here on earth our task is to witness with lives of faith in the love of God, the goodness of creation, the sanctity of human life, the worthiness of spending your life for others.
  • In the end . . . love wins. (That’s what Easter is all about).
  • This is good news. We share that with others and are ourselves renewed as we receive the Risen Christ in the Eucharist.

In the end what I find most helpful against times of panic or fear is to know that God’s providence has got it all in His loving hands. St. Paul knew this when he wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . what will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or peril? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37

So give your anxiousness to God in prayer. He won’t take away the hard thing most likely but he will give you the grace to carry it and in the end, with Christ, we will conquer.

With love,
Fr. Tim

PS. Pope John XXIII would pray with this abandonment to God’s plan, with the whole church weighing on his shoulders he would pray, “Lord, it’s your church. I’m going to bed.”