I tend to be a “news junky” ever since the days following 9/11 which ushered in the height of the 24-hour news cycle. I recall very vividly the first night, being glued to the TV news, wondering and waiting for what was (I presumed) bound to come next. Nothing ever came, thank God, and I eventually turned off the TV, going to bed. I didn’t go to sleep, but I did go to bed. My mind couldn’t turn off, after so many hours of watching, and re-watching the tragedy of that day. I’ve been feeling very similar lately.
I’ve had to force myself to turn off the news the past few days, not because I don’t want to know what is happening with the pandemic, but because it continues to increase my anxiety levels. As I preached yesterday, most of us spend our entire life on the first step of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, renounce the world. Intellectually I know my anxiety is sucking up energy that can be better used in prayer and helping others. If I could relax more, I could be much more effective in sharing God’s hope for tomorrow.
As today’s reading from Proverbs indicates, (you can read the entire passage below) being rid of anxiety and other “high energy” emotions, glorifies and honors God. If you read carefully today’s reading, you will notice the dichotomy of a life of anxiety vs tranquility and peace. Our human passions are ripe with selfishness which brings sin and death. If we can defeat our fallen passions, and replace them with Godly peace and tranquility, our life will not only have less anxiety, but will draw others to Christ.
So, let’s spend this week of our Great Lenten Journey focusing on reducing the anxiety in our lives, and actively being more tranquil with others. Trust that living wisely will have God’s favor. Don’t believe me? It says it right there in today’s reading from Proverbs.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death. In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but passion makes the bones rot. He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him. The wicked is overthrown through his evil-doing, but the righteous finds refuge through his integrity. Wisdom abides in the mind of a man of understanding, but it is not known in the heart of fools. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. A servant who deals wisely has the king's favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. – Proverbs 14.27-15.4