Week of Nov. 27: Facing life without worry
By VICKY BRANTLEY and JOHN BRANTLEY
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34
God of power, calm my mind. Let me rest in you. Ease my anxiety, and let me simply be- quiet and peaceful in your arms. Amen.
Worry is generally a misplaced response. Worry is an emotional answer to what is usually a physical question. Thinking the worst, meditation on our failures, or sinking under the weight of threats beyond our control gives us good practice in the art of worry.
Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into God's hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about." How much of what we worry about can we do anything to change? Worry is a futile effort. Like rocking in a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but you don’t go anywhere.
The weight of worry
The Biggest Loser is a reality exercise in motivating a group of people to lose the most weight and gain greater health and self-esteem. What is the weight of worry? What would our life, family, church, community and nations look and be like if we lifted the weight of worry, fear and anxiety off our plate and left it with God? We would be freed up to be the whole people are created to become.
Scottish theologian John Watson said, “What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it does empty today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. God gives us the power to bear all the sorrow of His making, but He does not guarantee to give us strength to bear the burdens of our own making such as worry induces.”
Life is much too complicated and we are much too vulnerable in our human condition to ever escape the inevitable battles with worry and anxiety. But for Christians, stress does have a positive side. It can be a reminder that our lives have drifted away from God. It might be an indicator that we have stopped depending upon God daily for strength. Perhaps we have forgotten the many promises in his Word. Let go of the weight of worry and you will feel amazingly free.
So how is that working for you?
Dr. Phil has a couple of good words about ineffective behavior patterns. If we are trying to find control of our lives and situations by worrying if troops will come home, if cancers will attack and if bills will get paid, but we are not peace makers, faith healers and work-sharers, how can we expect worry to help us? It doesn’t. Walter Kelly, cartoonist of Pogo fame, wrote, “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat...worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles. A dense fog that covers a seven-city-block area one hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water divided into sixty thousand million drops. Not much is there, but it can cripple an entire city. When I don't have anything to worry about, I begin to worry about that.”
This passage is a self-exam of the power of worry. Imagine the withered flowers and dried up crops and see the emptiness of worry. The starting point for the community of faith is to encourage each other to value what God sees and hopes for each of us.
Strive for God and not for worry
Worry is our anxiousness about what we cannot control. What if we take responsibility for what is rightfully ours and leave the rest to God and others, and let God bless and work through us? There is enough need to focus on living today fully without being stressed about what may or may not be real life tomorrow.
A bassoon player came up to his conductor, Arturo Toscanini, and nervously said that he could not reach the high E flat. Toscanini just smiled and replied, "Don't worry. There is no E flat in your music tonight." Many of our worries are like that-- unfounded and unnecessary. An average person’s anxiety is forty percent concerning things that will never happen; thirty percent about the past that can’t be changed; twelve percent about criticism by others, mostly untrue; ten percent about health, which gets worse with stress, and eight percent about real problems that we must face. Our time would be best spent on working on matters over which we have control and can effect change. The gift of this day is filled with God’s hope that we will blossom, sing, nourish and fill this day with the things of God. We don’t have time to worry if we are doing the things of God.
Take Action: Find a worry partner and commit to not allow your partner to worry. Call them on it as a spiritual invitation to pray, share and grow.
“Give to the winds thy fear; hope and be undismayed. God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears. God shall lift up thy head.” The United Methodist Hymnal #129