Today we continue our week-long quest for wisdom. Today’s pearl of wisdom has us thinking about the things that worry us. Herod was worried about Jesus to the point of morbid curiosity. He was afraid that Jesus was some kind of reincarnation of St. John the Baptist. He worried about what people must be thinking, he worried about the possibility of losing the throne, he worried about everything because he was kind of a low-level leader, and he’d be the first to go if there was any kind of trouble.
But don’t we worry about the same kinds of things? We worry about what people are saying about us. We worry about losing whatever control we have of whatever is in our lives, whether it is work, or family, or friends. We worry about very real things like illness or the economy or the direction our loved ones are taking. But what Qoheleth would have us understand in our first reading, is that this is all a handful of nothing. It’s vanity, a chasing after the wind, a waste of the life we’ve been given.
And that’s hard for me to hear today because I’m a worrier, and come from a long line of worriers. When I don’t think I have anything to worry about, I worry that I’m forgetting something! (And I usually am!) But what we all need to hear – me included! – is that God has all of this in his hands. And even if everything doesn’t go completely smoothly, or if it doesn’t go the way we’d like to see it happen, it will all work out in God’s time. Maybe the way won’t be bump-free, but the way will ultimately lead us to God if we stop trying to veer off the path and go our own way. Because that is truly vanity.
Our prayer of submission to God’s will is the words of the Psalmist today: “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.” Amen to that. There’s never a time when God lets us down or leaves us alone. Even if the way is difficult, we are not alone on it. God is always our refuge, in good times and in bad. Thinking any differently in times of distress is nothing more than a chasing after the wind.