I was drinking coffee with a friend today when, in the middle of a conversation about the stresses of life these days, he said, “worry is a waste of time”. I agreed but added the idea that worry is much worse than simply wasting time. Wasting time at least appears to be somewhat neutral, usually harmless. Well, worry is in no way a neutral thing. Worry is very counter-productive. Worry moves us backwards. It is the opposite of productive behavior. Worry is a killer.
All kinds of studies have been done proving the destructive nature of worry. It takes a terrible toll on our physical bodies. Heart disease, digestive problems and headaches have all been connected to worry. Charles Horace Mayo said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from over work, but many who died from doubt.” Emotional illnesses certainly can result from uncontained worry. Millions of people spend sleepless nights worrying about what was and what will never be. Does this in any way sound neutral?
Jesus shared some wisdom about dealing with worry. Matthew 6:24-34 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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (TNIV)
Worrying about things like money reveals that we don’t really trust God to take care of us. Worrying about the past is really a statement about our doubts of the redemptive work of Christ. Worrying about what might happen tomorrow shows that we don’t believe that God will take care of us in the future. Worry uncovers our weakness, our lack of faith and our tendency to want to control our lives. Worry is the opposite of trust. Worry can become a god – a god before whom we bow in total submission.
Don’t fool yourself into believing that worry is harmless. It is not just a normal part of life. Worry is not unavoidable. And God doesn’t overlook our tendency to worry.
We can beat worry. And some days I would like to beat it with a baseball bat.
Tomorrow’s post will feature some great quotes about worry. Come on back.