Recently, a conversation on politics with a guy in Starbucks transpired into him complaining about the child support he has to pay for his five kids in Alaska. He ended the conversation by saying, “There’s always something.” What he meant was something along the lines of, “Life is never as you want it to be so it’s useless to get your hopes up; you can guarantee that another hassle is just around the corner.”
Google defines “apathy” as a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. This attitude is everywhere. For many of us, it is our go-to response when life gets overwhelming. When work hours and/or commutes are long, when the car breaks down and we don’t have money to fix it, when kids activities take up every evening of the week, when we have to take up a second job just to make ends meet, and the list could go on.
Much of the time, we react by just giving up. We give up on finding any joy or purpose in life. We give up on resting or taking a minute to look objectively at our lives. We give up on pursuing things that we know are good: time in prayer and the Word, engaging with Christian community, a healthy marriage and friendships.
And we resign ourselves to simply enduring, taking one day at a time, facing only the immediate demands right in front of us. Sure, we would love to be enthusiastic about something, to live with passion, but we tell ourselves that the life we have just doesn’t allow it.
At its heart, this attitude is idolatry. Rather than turning to God in our need, we turn to apathy as a functional savior. Subconsciously, we stop believing that God is good. We think that if he were good, he would take away the struggle, he would give us more money, he would make our lives as good as everyone else’s seems to be, etc.
So what do we do? What do we do when we can’t handle life on our own and God doesn’t seem to be coming through? There are really only two options, idolatry and worship. Either we turn to various forms of idolatry, finding solace in busyness, apathy, or diversions meant to numb our pain, or we turn to God in worship.
Turning to God in worship is much more than putting our heads down and living with sheer determination. Worship opens our eyes to the greater realities and the greater goodness that apathy blinds us to. Worship turns our hearts and minds to recall the truths that provide the only real and lasting solace: God is present, God is in control, and God is good.
Despite protests to the contrary, this is not a form of escapism, a religiously-tinged apathy where we just buckle-down in anticipation for the afterlife. Quite the opposite: worship, while expanding our sight beyond the immediate demands right in front of us (“There’s always something”), giving us hope of the glorious life to come, also infuses those same immediate demands with purpose and perspective. For the same Lord who is to come, is the Lord who is here right now.
The one to whom we desperately cry, “Come Lord Jesus”, is also the one who taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.”
So when life becomes too much for us to handle, when apathy seems like our only help and comfort, let us commit our hearts and minds to worship. Let us think on the God who was, and is, and is to come.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys,
O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.