Sometimes the World Seems Like a Strange Place

The Assumption of Our Lord Jesus Christ Cathol...
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Life gets very complicated sometimes.It feels peculiar to me to live in the same country where I grew up and feel like a stranger. When I was a child nobody thought it was odd for a family or an individual to go to church. Today it is assumed that Sunday morning is for sleeping in or for soccer practice. When I was a child we all stood up first thing every morning at school and said the pledge of allegiance. Then our teachers read to us from the Bible, or some read Bible story books. Nobody thought that was strange. When we attended graduation ceremonies, we all expected to stand and bow our heads for the opening prayer. Nobody acted like it was an intrusion or an insult or weird.

All these things have changed. My husband and I went to a restaurant during the Christmas season, and as was our habit, we said, “Merry Christmas” to the person who seated us. She was a young woman, probably in her early twenties. She looked a little flustered, and then she said, “I don’t know if I am allowed to say …. That…. Back to you.” We tried to assure her we understood, but in fact, we didn’t. It seems completely at odds with the country we grew up in. We feel almost as much like strangers in the USA as we feel when we travel to some other country.

When I feel alone and confused about the world around me, I turn to prayer, the Bible, and my hymnal. This past Sunday we sang a hymn that is very comforting. It is a prayer hymn, and when I sing it, I can pray and be comforted all at once.

Lord Jesus, think on me

And purge away my sin;

From selfish passions set me free

And make me pure within.

I know that even as I look around and wonder why other people act the way they do, I am not as different as I wish I were. I am sinful and selfish, self-centered, easily upset when the situation does not meet my expectations. My focus on what I want makes me angry and hurt. The hymn reminds me that I need to let go of self and turn to Christ. I thought I was asking him to notice me, but in the hymn I am led to pay more attention to him. I need to be purified.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

By anxious thoughts oppressed;

Let me your loving servant be

And taste your promised rest.

It is so wonderful to take my anxious thoughts to Christ. I ask, “What happened? Where can I be at home? This is a strange and frightening world.” Then I recognize that if I stop thinking about me and remember that my call is to be a servant, not a tyrant, then I can be at peace. When I am serving Christ with all my heart, the anxiety and fear simply fade away.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

Nor let me go astray;

Through darkness and perplexity

Point out your chosen way.

Oh, I do feel lost. Often. The signposts I expected to find simply don’t exist anymore. All the rules have changed. Not God’s rules. The rules of the culture. The common practices of my neighbors. The things people think are normal. I easily become confused, perplexed, and lost. I need the light of Christ to show me the way to go.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

That when the flood is past,

I may the eternal brightness see

And share your joy at last.

There is a way to make sense of everything. I just need to see things God’s way. I need to change my world view. The world view of the people around me is constantly morphing, but that way of living leads to chaos. I need to see the world the way God sees it. Then I will have the peace of reassurance that God is bringing his perfect will to pass.

Even in the darkest moments, when I hear the most discouraging words, when it looks as if everything is truly upside down, I can turn to Christ. He will forgive me for my failures, lead me to servanthood, and put me on the path to his perfect will.

I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for Synesius of Cyrene, a faithful Christian who lived more than a thousand years ago, (375-430AD) for writing down his own prayer in troubled times. I thank my Savior for all the people who had a hand in preserving this beautiful prayer all these years. I thank the One who gave himself for me because he knows that I am dust, and I need this hymn.