I believe we are naturally restless people. For whatever reason, we feel our lives are somehow incomplete as we experience them and we long to fill in what is missing. We anxiously grasp at the world, hoping that more stuff, more wealth, more power, and more acclaim will satisfy us. Despite the futility of the world, something tells us it will bring us ultimate rest, but it never does. The more we seek, the more we realize how unsatisfied we are.
I would argue, interestingly enough, that this is among the best arguments for the existence of God. As we continue to search unsuccessfully for what will bring us rest, the longing we feel only grows stronger within us. With every question we are drawn to a wider horizon, forced to see ourselves against the infinite backdrop of our lives. Despite the ever-deepening hole within us and the futility of the world, something within us drives us to keep seeking, makes us believe there is something out there that will ultimately fulfill us. We refuse to settle, refuse to find comfort, no matter how much we have, because something within us knows that we need more. Our very longing points to that which can fulfill us. How true were St. Augustine’s words: our souls are restless until they rest in God!
As disciples of Christ, we must give up our restless anxiety and trust in God.
That means first and foremost trusting what we know in our hearts, what yearns within. Despite our doubts, we also possess some faith that we cannot explain, brief moments of calm that offer us a taste of a kingdom far beyond our own. There is something deep down that finds solace in the story of the Gospel and is filled with joy in the presence of goodness. Like the pregnant Elizabeth upon meeting her cousin Mary, there is something that leaps inside us at the presence of Christ. This is more than just wishful thinking or projection; it is our very souls reaching out for our Creator. In moments of doubt, do not worry that this feeling cannot be proven or quantified, but simply rest in it. Trust your feelings. Be still, and know that God has created you and speaks to you in the depths of your heart.
If this is not enough, trust in the faith that has been passed down for millennia. Things that are false, things that are destructive, pass away, but that which is true remains. For thousands of years, people of faith worshipped God and maintained a Tradition of faith; for two thousand of those years, that people existed as the Church, a people founded by Jesus himself and guided by the Holy Spirit. Despite scandals and wars, abuses and threats, division and persecution, the people of God have refused to be turned away. They staked their lives on what they have seen, passed down what they have heard, and stood by what they have known to be true. Despite the world, the Church prevails. In times of frenetic anxiety, do not worry about what cannot be seen, but simply remember the faith of our ancient mothers and fathers. Trust in their examples. Be still, and know that God founded and guides the Church.
If that still is not enough to calm your fears, trust, finally, in the power of love and truth you find in the world. While we are quite familiar with being disappointed by the worst we see in the world, we cannot deny the extraordinary heroism of which humanity is also capable. All around us, ordinary people are performing acts of sacrifice, giving up their own lives so that others may live. It is nearly impossible to look into the world and not see love overflowing at every turn. Science cannot explain it, logic doesn’t understand it. And yet, love emanates more powerfully than any substance we can measure. Truth transcends any instrument or equation. In moments of pessimism, when we find ourselves impatient with the world, do not grow hopeless, but trust in the unexplainable love lived by so many. Trust the goodness you see. Be still, and know that God is the source of all that is Good, Beautiful, and True, and that all love exists because God wills it.
For a world fixated on proofs and certainty, following a God of mystery seems ludicrous. Giving up our will and assenting to another seems like we’re following blindly and passively. It may seem as though we enter the darkness because we can’t face the truth. But we know through faith that this couldn’t be more wrong. We enter the darkness, letting go of our need to know and be in control, not because we wish to be blind, but because it is only time when we can truly see. In leaving our anxiety and trusting in God, we enter into the source of all truth and allow ourselves to be led in a way that we could have never found by ourselves. We may not know where the road leads, and that might cause great concern in us. But for those who trust in God, simply knowing who is leading is all we need to know. Following Christ is not about knowing where we are going, but knowing who we are going with, and trusting that he knows the way.
When Christ is our leader, we have no reason to worry.