Robert Frost once observed “the reason worry kills more people than work is because more people worry than work." That certainly appears to be what is happening right now. Worry and anxiety have reached critical levels recently.
Over the years I’ve read a lot of things about worry. Many doctors believe worry is the #1 cause of heart trouble. The old phrase "worried sick" is more than a platitude; it is a reality. Gypsies said that a sad man is a sick man and that sickness is the result of worry. The Greeks used to describe worry as opposing forces at work to tear man apart. The Saxons compared worry to a vicious animal clutching at a man's throat. Our word "worry" comes from the anglo-Saxon verb "wyrgan", which means to choke or strangle.
The Bible tells us numerous times that worry abounded in those days as well. And when Scripture addresses this topic, it tells us that worry is sinful. Jesus spoke about it when teaching about the last days.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap (Luke 21:34-36).
So what should we do? Quite simply put, don't worry! Someone has estimated that 40% of all worries are about things that never happen; 30% of our anxieties are about things in the past that cannot be changed; 12% is spent in needless worries about health; and the other 8% might be legitimate areas of concern. People spend most of their time worrying about things that they can't change or things that won't happen.
One of the best things I’ve discovered to avoid worry is to focus my thoughts on God instead of my problems. The prophet Isaiah offers this advice: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3). If you think about God's care and preservation that He so graciously and freely provides for you, all worry becomes insignificant. Focusing your thoughts on God reminds you that He has provided for all your needs, the foremost of which is your need for the forgiveness of sins. By looking at the cross and the empty tomb, you are constantly reminded that God does care for you and gives you what you need. Surely a God who did not spare His Son, but gave Him up for us all, will continue to care for you. Worrying is an insult to the God who has told you seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33). You have the message of salvation! You know that no matter what you have done wrong in your life, it was covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. You know the way to eternal life. Instead of worrying, trust in Jesus, who has provided these things, and so much more, as a free gift!
Paul urges in his letter to the Philippians: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).
Don’t worry. God has he whole world in His hands, and He has got you, too.
Michael Mattil is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.