J.John's Worry Letter
Did you know that most people's anxiety is focused and preoccupied with 40% of things that will never happen, 30% of things relating to the past that can't be changed, 12% of things relating to other people's criticism, which is generally untrue, and 10% of things relating to health, which often gets worse with stress and negative thinking. Only 8% of the time do they worry about real concerns that will need to be faced. So, if only about 8% of all the issues in our lives really turn out to be 'something' why is it that we spend so much time worrying and being highly anxious and stressed about all the rest?
I read a story about Arthur Rank who decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed him, he would write it down, put it in his 'worry box' and forget about it until the following Wednesday. The interesting thing was that, on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were no longer issues of concern. So it would have been useless to have worried about them in the first place.
Of course, there are important things going on in our lives that we do need to take seriously. However, if we spend most of our time worrying about the inconsequential, we won't have time to focus on matters of consequence. When we are so concerned about the things that we can't do anything about, we have a tendency to miss things which are really important and no time and energy left to deal with them.
The issue with worry and anxiety raises the issue of our faith and trust in God. Does God know? Does God care? Is our God sovereign? Can we trust God?
Did Jesus himself not say in Matthew 6:25-30: "I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"
I heard about a woman who couldn't sleep at night because she worried that her home would be burgled. One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he found a burglar. He immediately said, "Come upstairs and meet my wife. She's been waiting 10 years to meet you."
A real burglar can steal from us once. Worry can steal from us night after night, for many years. Worry not only steals our sleep, it also steals our health and our ability to cope with life productively.
And what about people who constantly obsess about their weight? It's all very well being health-conscious, but should we think about food intake to such an extent that there's no room in our heads to think of anything else?
Elephants live longer than people, maybe because they never worry about trying to lose weight!
Maybe we should take the following verse like medication three times a day, morning, noon and night to remind us to renew our minds: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
May you know the Lord's SHALOM all around the compass and the clock.