We live in confusing times—perhaps also vexing, anxious, over-stuffed or dangerous? Two questions dog our days: “What’s going on?” And *“Now what?” (The first one’s too complex for these few lines, so let me concentrate on the second one.)
In some situations, our well-being and safety hang in the balance. After divorces, accidents, economic downturns, medical emergencies, disasters or sudden worldwide turmoil, “Now what?” might be the most-important or most-urgent question to consider.
“Now what?” invites consideration of the past, present and future. (We can’t deal with what’s next until we trace the history of now and parse existing realities.) The question/plea comes with a healthy dose of humility. Perhaps overwhelmed by circumstances or events that don’t allow easy solutions, we ask for help.
The options for dealing with “Now what?” seem straightforward: We can freeze in helplessness, waiting for a rescue whose elements we don’t know or can’t imagine. We can move quickly, trusting our memories or intuition. (Here we hope to analyze the results of our decisions and then adjust our future actions.) Perhaps too-familiar: We can give in to the Epicurean futility, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Or we can quiet down, take a deep breath and start the process of discernment, sorting our values, goals, priorities and assets. Gathering the counsel of others, we can examine the patterns of our attitudes and sense of purpose. (Where necessary, confession and repentance can be helpful.) As wise answers emerge, we can take small steps towards larger possibilities. If a problem persists without solutions, we can wait patiently. Prayerfully.
What anchors me in these times: The assurance that God’s people have been here before. The hand of God in their/our history helps calm me. “Now what?” can strengthen my faith.
The answers will come!
*This question is so far-reaching that it creates its own family of variations: What’s next? Where’s this heading? What should I/we do now? This is beyond my pay grade. Help! Anyone have any good ideas? How long do we have? How can we solve this? And my favorite: What’s useful here?
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