Years ago, advice columnist Ann Landers would receive about 10,000 letters a month. When someone asked her what was the most common topic, she answered most people are afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, their job, family members, afraid of upsetting their neighbors, alienating a friend, or committing a social mistake. We live in a world of fearful people.
In John’s gospel Jesus tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” Don’t we all long for an untroubled heart? We would give whatever we had, if someone promised us freedom from fear, and a heart that was totally at peace.
What is an untroubled heart? Does it mean enduring pain and hardship without showing our feelings? It doesn’t let anything bother your attitude? No. An untroubled heart does not closed itself off to feelings and compassion. An untroubled heart deals with trouble in a way that the world does not understand. This is because for a Christian the outcome of any situation never spells final success or final failure.
Graduating from college, buying and paying for a new home, getting a promotion – these are all successes, but they are not final or ultimate successes. Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, failing an exam – these are all failures, but they are not final or ultimate failures.
For a Christian the only ultimate failure is complete despair – losing all hope in the God who loves us. The only ultimate success is loving God and others, as completely as we can.