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Don't go looking for trouble. There's enough trouble in each day.

We went looking for trouble.

In 2004, my friend Sabine and I traveled to Washington state to housesit for relatives, and we went to see a lightly-active Mt. St. Helens volcano. From the visitor center, wisps of smoke fluttered from the top of the rim.

The tidy terrain maps and stories of the eruption in May 1980 only mildly made that smoke more threatening.

Fast forward to January 2020.

Another friend and I decided to repeat that trip. Unfortunately, it was winter, we had no snow tires, the weather was awful, the visitor center was closed, and the fog prevented us from seeing anything but the narrow icy road and the snow plow operator looking at us incredulously for driving to the top of the mountain in that condition.

We made it back down OK, but there were a few prayer-filled moments. Looking for trouble wasn’t our intention. We thought we were looking for a lovely view.

Trouble is on the road ahead. You don’t have to rush to find it. You’ll get there soon enough.

This was the thought stirring in my mind one afternoon when I was working on a project and asked God to point me to the right sermon video to watch. I then clicked on one which opened with scripture that said exactly that.

A verse to hold onto for 2024, which seems to have the potential to be a wild ride, is that verse, Matthew 6:34. In the midst of explaining why we should not worry, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble of its own.

God is telling us that there will be trouble in this life.

Don’t worry about the specifics of it, don’t worry about wondering if it is there. It’s there. So is He. Stop worrying, because worrying about tomorrow is actively looking for trouble.

Unfortunately, at any given moment, you can find something to worry about. That means trouble is just a brain flickering wayward thought away.

Enjoying your birthday cake? Worry about sugar and cholesterol. Enjoying a roller coaster? Worry about the engineer who designed it. About to fly off on an exciting vacation? Worry about the pilot and the maintenance of the airplane.

Worrying is about the least creative thing you can do. It takes zero effort.

“I’m having far too nice a time,” we seem to think. “Let me go find some trouble to worry about.”

We almost feel guilty if we aren’t worrying. How dare I not worry when everyone else around me has a master’s degree in fretting? The audacity to dare not worry! We know that worrying—and its sister, anxiety—is off the charts simply judging by the vast expanse of mindfulness and mental health wellness products everywhere, from journals to candles.

Somewhere, far beyond appropriate concern and subsequent action, we see tomorrow’s trouble—next week’s trouble, next month’s trouble, next year’s trouble even—and take a drive up its mountain to see the view. We must know what’s coming, what’s happening, what’s around us…so we can worry about it.

I can choose not to know.

It’s not the same as sticking my head in the sand. It’s talking to God and being sensitive to his leading, making a choice about information he deems necessary for my walk with him, and what I can handle.

“Trust us. Don’t research” on one side, while “Do your own research, don’t be a normie” is on the other. Stop listening to such folks and listen to God.

This is not a Sunday school answer. If you can’t hear God’s leading, it may be that you’re not used to seeking it out.

God knows each of us very well.

There’s a reason for the saying that “ignorance is bliss.” The less you know, the less you worry about. When you know about something, you’re then responsible for what you do about it.

Thinking of ignorance as a positive is shocking in our awareness-obsessed culture, but not all ignorance is created equal. Looking for trouble often means searching out information that’s going to cause us problems later. God knows what we need to know at an individual level, and at a larger level, he’s told us some mysteries are his alone.

If your neighbor is marinating in research and posting 20 times a day on [Favorite Social Network] and you are overwhelmed but also embarrassed to admit that it’s too much for you, mute that content without alerting him, being gracious and quiet, creating distance and space to think clearly. Talk to God about it and see if there are changes in your life once that steady stream of information is removed.

Be sensitive to the question of the consumption of knowledge and information, because information is noisy in the head. It’s necessary to ask God to guide you in this area. What was okay last year may be off the table this year. Last year’s gold might be this year’s looking-for-trouble.

Knowledge is power, goes the saying, but at what point does that knowledge exceed your mental and emotional state and just crush you? A Mack truck is powerful if you’re behind the wheel, but if you’re in the middle of the road that’s an entirely different experience.

If you feel like finding a good view, skip the drive up the volcano in winter. Just open God’s word. It never over or underwhelms. His voice comes through its words and is much better than any information or knowledge you can find elsewhere.


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