Every now and then, life seems to blow a hurricane of anxiety our way. All at once, a thousand different gusts of wind come at you demanding your attention and responsibility. You have 9 different tests this week for your 14 classes; college deadlines are closer than you hoped; a crying baby is demanding your attention; job applications need completed; the car needs an oil change; the girls room has a leak; and that report won’t write itself! As a result of this onset of stress, you’ve been getting more headaches; you need to see the doctor about those heart palpitations that have developed; sleep has become reluctant to come; you’ve been eating too many comfort foods and now your bottoms are getting snug; and it’s picture day but all of this stress has caused your face to break out!
Even when you finally sit down with the intention to complete something, all of these time-dependent tasks compound and overwhelm you, causing your head to feel like it’s spinning in circles and your motivation gushes out leaving you feeling empty. Then the only thing you want to do is crawl into a dark corner to mindlessly scroll through your internet feed.
Sometimes it can hurt to care too much and form deep attachments to all that the world demands from us. The anxiety we allow to set upon our shoulders can actually cause undue physical harm! As a form of defense, Christians ought to develop something as they grow in Christ that I like to call “Practical Apathy.” In the face of all of these trying demands that we hold in high priority, we need to remember Who ought to be first in our lives: GOD. Because taking the time to focus on Him can make our seemingly huge and overwhelming problems become truly small and trivial.
To have apathy toward something is to be free from concern; to have indifference; to not care. This word is generally thrown around as a pejorative to be used in a corrective manner when someone isn’t putting their heart into something in order to prompt a more enthusiastic response. But when put to practical non-corrective use, sometimes it can be advantageous to not care. For instance, when we apply this practical apathy to all of those demands that so often cause us stress and anxiety, our hearts and our minds can find a state of peace and relaxation. But these turbulent winds might still cause us to blow away into an ever darkening state of nihilism if we haven’t tied our anchor to something of a more substantial and eternal hope. As Christians, if we remember that we’ve tethered ourselves to Jesus who infallibly awaits us as our true anchor in heaven, we ought to be comforted when we loosen our grip on the world and let go of the worldly cares and burden as we put our faith wholly back into the hands of God. Because this world is not our home; we’re just-a-passing through. Our treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue!
This isn’t to say that we should just blow off and neglect our responsibilities in this life, but when we know that we’re right with our Lord, and we CAN know (1 John 5:13), it becomes a simple task to step back, pull ourselves out of the whirlwind for a brief moment, and realize that all of these frazzling gusts are but mere fleeting whispers in the grand constant breeze that is eternity with our Lord.
In the account of Luke 22:39-44, we have Jesus just prior to His arrest and crucifixion, with His anxiety physically exhibiting itself as His sweat became like drops of blood. Yes, THE Jesus suffering from anxiety. In the face of this intense pressure, this impossibly heavy responsibility that He held, He showed us what the best thing we can do for ourselves is: He dropped to a knee to pray. Because only in the comfort of our Lord can we realize what truly matters in the bigger picture of our existence, and only when we give our lives over to God can we allow Him to take care of us. Jesus speaks to us in Matthew 7:19-24, giving us this reminder of how God takes care of His people:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For Gentiles sought after these things. And your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
This brief statement of consolation pretty much sums up the idea of “Practical Apathy” as it pertains to a Christian. It also serves as a reprimand to those who would allow the world to divide their focus. Jesus says immediately beforehand that no one can serve two masters, because in such a case, our loyalty becomes compromised, and our God demands nothing less than our complete devotion. We need to be careful not to become consumed by all of the toils and demands in our lives. This world is not our lord, so it ought not have so much influence over our hearts. We certainly have responsibilities to attend to in this lifetime, but even if we have to pull our attention from our worldly deeds and thus go without in order to give God the attention He’s due us, we can find comfort in the fact that He is faithful and will always provide. Jesus said to seek Him FIRST, and the rest will be given to us. Rarely, if ever, does a member of the Lord’s Church go without.
We can walk a life of suffering with a smile because with Heaven as our destination and God as our defender, how can the cares and worries of this life weigh us down? It’s kind of like a painting. While choppy strokes and happy accidents might appear to be truly problematic when examined up close, Bob Ross always reminded us that when we take a step back to see the bigger picture, those mistakes lose their weight and become insignificant. And with God as the artist behind our own personal paintings of life, the end result is always something of Heavenly value.