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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Needless worry

                "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will

                    be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

                                                                                    Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

                    "Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble."

                                                                    George Washington Lyon

You've probable suspected, by the reading of the above quotations, that our topic of consideration today is going to be a few thoughts regarding "worry" and/or "anxiety." Well, your suspicions are correct so let's sally forth.

What inspired my thoughts on this subject today is a TV commercial I've seen many times recently that shows a cute little dog worrying about his bone. He can't sleep, can't be content or at peace because of his worrying whether his bone is safe and the musical background is a song with the words "worry, worry, worry" and "trouble, trouble, trouble" being repeated. I think it's advertising some insurance company, but regardless of who's paying for the spot, I like the commercial and it helps me introduce my thoughts today.

Yep, one of the things we humans seem to do an excessive amount of at times is "worry." Some worry more than others do, but we all do so to some extent. We worry about things like "health," or we worry about "business'" (or lack thereof). We worry about "family problems" and, in keeping with the hot topic of today, we worry about "traveling," especially the flying kind of traveling. We even worry about the "weather," don't we?

Now here's what's sad to me, and I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to this phenomenon, sometimes we worry about things we have no business worrying about. What I'm saying is, that we sometimes worry "needlessly." And, in so doing, we put stress on ourselves that needn't be there.

Maybe I'm being too simplistic here, but here's a solution that I see: if we're facing a situation that we can do something about - do it! If we can't - then pray that God will give us strength to get through it. But, worry isn't going to help the situation.

As I see it, here's the problem regarding worry and anxiety. It can compound whatever the problem is by bringing on physical health problems. It's like adding fuel to an already burning fire. By "health problems" I mean things like "intestinal illnesses, skin problems and nerve problems." Now I'm not the only one who has noticed this, look at something said by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, of the Mayo Clinic. "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt."

While we're talking about "needless worry," here's another good example. We tend to worry about things that we think "might" happen. When we engage in this kind of worrying it's not very long before we've projected it on out to it's "worst-case scenario." To the extreme possibility, however remote that possibility might be. It's then that we find ourselves in a full-blown anxiety attack and it's all in our mind!

Here's a humorous little illustration of what I'm saying about "projecting" our worries. It seems that a man was worried over something to the point that he couldn't sleep. He said, "I counted sheep and after reaching 10,000 of them, I sheared 'em, combed the wool, had it spun into cloth, made into suits, took them to town - and lost $21.00 apiece on them. I haven't slept for a week."

I just thought that to be an amusing way of making this point; that we sometimes mentally magnify things that "might possibly" occur in the future, but most probably will not. What's going on here is, that our minds are dwelling on something in the future while we are living in the present. I ask you, isn't this what Christ is warning us about in Matt. 6:34? Doesn't it also fit with the quote by George W. Lyon about the "interest on borrowed trouble?"

Another venue I've noticed about what many people worry about is that they worry over what they "DON'T" have - materially speaking. They're not content with what they "DO" have and contentedness is the antitheses of worry. Here's my opinion, paraphrased from Christ's words in Matthew: be thankful for the material blessings that you do have and don't be anxious and worry because someone else has more. When Christ said for us to "not be anxious," or worry, in Matt. 6, He was talking about being anxious about material things. (Read verses 25-34)

Trust me, you have more than lots of other people and to worry about what you "DON'T" have is to NOT be grateful and thankful for what you do. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next Thursday, let's use this occasion to remind ourselves to be grateful and thankful for what we've been materially blessed with.

Now for a closing thought. In the context of our lesson today, "worry" is not the same as "concern." Preparation for the future is not worry, it's concern and that's different. The word "concern" means things like: "care about" and "consider" or "have regard" or even to "take heed." With those definitions in mind, let's see if we can't close our lesson with a thought appropriate to the occasion.

Wouldn't you agree that we should "consider" our future existence and make preparations for it? In looking at the temporal aspects of our future, we have to keep in mind and understand that we're not guaranteed "tomorrow" (James 4:14) but, it's the eternal future that we should be more concerned with. That we should "care about" and when we do have that care and concern, we make the right preparations for our eternal future according to the Gospel of Christ.

By exercising this care and concern, thus making our future preparations "sure" (2Pet. 1:10), we eliminate any and all anxiousness and worry about our soul's salvation. It's the one thing a true Christian would have no reason to worry about. When we're prepared for the future that God has prepared for His people, I think we can echo the sentiments of Robert J. Burdette who said:

"There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry. Two carefree days, kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday, and the other day I do not worry about is Tomorrow."

Ron Covey

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