Remember that terrifying, no-win situation that kept you up worrying most of the night? The one that kept you tossing and turning until dawn? The one that dragged you out of bed to watch infomercials into the wee hours of the morning? The one you thought would destroy you today? The one you thought would end in tragedy? Abandonment? Bankruptcy? Divorce? Pain and suffering? How’d that work out for you? Did it happen? Did it happen the way you thought it would?
I’ve heard or read that 80 percent of the things we worry about don’t ever happen. Frankly, I don’t know how researchers could arrive at such a statistic or how they’d measure it. But if I take their word for it, that would mean four out of every five things I worry about would never happen.
Mad Magazine’s cover boy, Alfred E. Neuman, made the phrase “What, me worry?” a household phrase in the 50’s and 60’s. The American humor magazine first published in the 1950’s offers satire on all aspects of life and popular culture, politics, entertainment, and public figures. Newman has appeared in a slew of guises, including Santa Claus, Darth Vader, George Washington, King Kong, Baby New Year, Lawrence of Arabia, Batman, Robin, Spider-Man, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Rosemary’s Baby, and George S. Patton, to name a few.¹
Wouldn’t it be nice if we never worried? I believe, however, we all worry at times. I thought about the times I have worried. God has shown me some things about worry from my experience:
- For me, worry is self-centered — Let’s say you have a 17-year-old daughter who already has one child out-of-wedlock and is pregnant with another from her current boyfriend. She’s shacking up with the guy and they live in a one-bedroom apartment in a shady, dangerous part of town. He has no job, no money, no prospects, and for a hobby he sells crack cocaine. I imagine that situation would have any parent biting their nails, pulling their hair, and weeping all day and night. I haven’t been in that situation, but I have been in situations I thought were hopeless. So I worried about them.But here’s the thing. When I worried, God has shown me I was worried about how the situation would affect me. Hurt me. Impact me. Yes, I believed my situation was untenable. I stayed awake at night trying to figure out how I could fix the problem. How I could influence the parties involved to diminish or eliminate negative consequences for me. I was being selfish and self-centered.
- In my experience, worry doesn’t impact the outcome — No matter how much I worry, I’ve never spent a sleepless night anguishing over something that did me any good or change the outcome of the situation. What God showed me in a recovery group about a seemingly untenable situation is this: I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. And I can’t cure it.
- Worry causes me emotional and physical problems and higher stress levels. — I’ll bet everybody on the planet knows that worry causes stress. For me worry spikes my blood pressure. When I spend the night worrying instead of sleeping the impact on my thinking, my activity, and my attitude all tank for a day or two. I never make up the sleep I lose worrying. I also get irritable (ask Marie).
Sometimes the next day I even worry about worrying.
Here’s what Jesus said about worry:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-36 (NIV)
What Jesus said to me in these verses is this: we’re either going to trust in our materialistic world, or we’re going to trust God and seek His kingdom first. We’re going to worry about our lives and our clothes and our food, or we’re going to rest in the compassionate arms of Jesus and trust God to provide all our needs.
Can we rest in Jesus and trust God all the time? No. But we can believe that when we trust God, He will provide. He will bless us. He will cover us with His grace. He will guide us into wise choices that are good for us and glorify Him. He will give us rest and dissolve our worry.
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And remember, God wants us all to trust Him with our live. Let’s all think like Alfred E.