What, Me Worry? Or Why Pray, When You Can Worry? – Pt.1
Part 1 of 3
As Mad Magazine’s freckle-faced, elephant-eared, toothy smiled Alfred E. Newman used to say: “What, me worry?” This sentiment should be the watchword of Christians today, but all too often our lives proclaim, “Why pray, when you can worry?” For many Christians worry is a bothersome, but normal part of living on terra firma. After all, who doesn’t worry about bills, health, kids or taxes now and then?
I heard about a woman who worried from sun-up to sun-down. She worried about the weather, how to pay for college (for her 1 and 3 year olds), what to have for Christmas dinner (this began just after Labor Day) and who her husband would marry if she died before he did. One day she popped in at her neighbor’s house for a cup of coffee and the normal worry lines were nowhere to be seen. Her mystified friend asked her wasn’t she concerned that it might (or might not) rain that day. The woman replied that she had no longer any need to worry. Her friend asked what brought about this state of grace and the perpetual worrier explained that her dear husband had hired someone to worry for her. The hired man worried about the house, the grocery bill, the Christmas dinner, college for the kids, etc.
“If he does all that worrying, you must have to pay him a lot,” her neighbor ventured.
“Yes, about forty-thousand dollars a year,” the converted worrier answered.
“Well!” exclaimed her friend. “How in the world are you going to pay for that?!”
Smiling sweetly, the former worrier sipped her coffee, took a second Danish and said, “That’s his worry.”
Most of us can’t afford to hire someone to worry for us. So we do it for ourselves. And for some of us, it’s a fulltime job.
The majority of our worries are about things over which we have no control. One man charted his worries and discovered that 40% of them were about things that never happened; 30% were about past decisions that he couldn’t unmake, 12% dealt with other people’s criticisms of him; and 10% were worries about his health. He concluded that only 8% were really legitimate.
How much of your worries are “legitimate”? If you were asked to chart what you worried about one year, or six months, or even a month ago today? Could you even remember what it was?
The word “worry” is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle or to choke”. It reminds us of what Jesus said in Mark 4:18-19 about some who hear the word, but. . . “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Worry makes God’s word unfruitful in your life; it literally strangles the word.
Vance Havner said, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”
Besides using up lots of time and energy in an unproductive manner, worry produces many adverse effects.
First, worry affects you physically: worry is a physical stress which, among other things, breaks down resistance to disease, interferes with restful sleep, diseases the nervous system, promotes hair loss in men and in women, and raises cholesterol levels in the blood.
The Bible tells us in Ps. 31:9-10 some things stress (for instance, worry) does to the body: “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”
Second, worry, affects you emotionally: Prov. 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, . . .” Worry makes your spirit feel heavy hearted.
Third, worry affects you spiritually: It is sin. Phil. 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything . . .” These words are in the imperative; it’s a command. The Scripture does not say, “If you can, don’t be anxious”, or “Don’t be anxious, unless you can’t help it”.
One woman excused her sin by saying, “It must help to worry, because the things I worry about never happen.”
Worry and faith are mutually exclusive. When you are worrying, you are not trusting God. When you are trusting God, you are not worrying.
There’s more to come on this topic in future blogs. But in the meantime, think about the things you tend to worry about. Has worry solved any of them for you?
©2011, Marcy Alves