Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don’t Worry. Be Happy!

Easy for me to say, right?  But not really practical.  You’ve probably heard the intentional mis-quoting of Rudyard Kipling:  “If you can keep your calm when those around you are losing theirs…you clearly don’t understand the situation!”  We all worry, don’t we? (I hope I’m not the only one!)  Some of us worry more than others, for whatever reason, but we all worry about something.

What do you worry about?  Money? School? Kids? What to make for supper? What to wear to work or school?  Whether to buy this brand or that brand of cereal?  Does your shirt match your pants? Do you worry so much that you can’t enjoy anything?  Do you worry that you worry too much? 

So, do you think worrying is a problem?  One psychologist told me that worrying, like guilt, is what gets most of us off the dime.  Worry is what motivates us to make good grades; get up and go to work every morning; or pay our bills. If we didn’t worry or feel guilty about things, we’d never accomplish anything at all.  That’s disheartening isn’t it?  I’d like to think that I do things for loftier reasons than worry and guilt.  How sad…if it’s true.  What do you think?

Then, there’s the philosophy on the popular book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and it’s all small stuff.  That’s kind of the other extreme, isn’t it?  It’s right up there with the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” philosophy.  Is it possible to just make up your mind one day that you’re not going to worry about anything any more?  How do you do that?

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George’s father was trying to find peace and calm by saying to himself, “Serenity Now!”  whenever he felt he was loosing his cool.  Hilarity ensues as tension mounts and Mr. Kostanza tries to force himself to remain calm.  Each time he says, “serenity now”, it’s louder and more frantic until he’s yelling. And, of course, it doesn’t work.  I don’t believe that someone can just tell himself (or herself) not to worry and then not worry.  I’ve met people who are trying to live like that, haven’t you?  They go around pretending not to be worried about anything while their world is falling down around them.  Not a good place to be.

Bummer, I don’t think I want to live with either of those options.  Worrying all the time, about everything would be exhausting and depressing!  But then so would forcing myself not to worry.  Thankfully, as Christians, we have a third choice.
So I say to you, Take no thought for your life, about food or drink, or about clothing for your body. Is not life more than food, and the body more than its clothing? See the birds of heaven; they do not put seeds in the earth, they do not get in grain, or put it in store-houses; and your Father in heaven gives them food. Are you not of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought is able to make himself a cubit taller? And why are you troubled about clothing? See the flowers of the field, how they come up; they do no work, they make no thread: But I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God gives such clothing to the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is put into the oven, will he not much more give you clothing, O you of little faith? Then do not be full of care, saying, What are we to have for food or drink? or, With what may we be clothed? Because the Gentiles go in search of all these things: for your Father in heaven has knowledge that you have need of all these things: But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition. Then have no care for tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Take the trouble of the day as it comes.” (Mat 6:25-34 BBE)
I heard a pastor say one time, that there are 365 “Fear not” verses in the Bible – one for every day of the year.  I’m trying to confirm that…still counting, but even if there aren’t exactly 365, there are a bunch of them.  That pastor said that God put those there to prove to us that we don’t need to worry. 
“God cares for everything and sustains everything that He has created…No tears are shed that He does not notice.  There is no smile that He does not mark.  If we would but fully believe this, all undue anxieties would be dismissed.  Our lives would not be so filled with disappointment as now; for everything, whether great or small, would be left in the hands of God, who is not perplexed by the multiplicity of cares or overwhelmed by their weight.  We should then enjoy a rest of soul to which many have long be strangers.”p471-472Mind, Character and Personality, Volume 2
The question is not, then, “How do I stop worrying?” but “Do I trust God?”  That’s a much easier question to answer.  My personal experience tells me that I can trust God.

But that raises another question.  If there are 365 fear nots in the Bible, that would imply that God really, really doesn’t want us to worry.  So is it wrong to worry?  Ellen White says in The Youth’s Instructor/January 23, 1902 “The Fair Flowers of Promise", 
“God is dishonored when we fret and worry.  Thus we show that we are not trusting in Him but in ourselves.”  Another time she tells a friend “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, but cease worrying.”(2MCP467.3)
I’m not sure whether or not worrying could be considered a sin, but I think it, at best, is a waste of time and, at worst, can separate us from God. 
“When we take into our hands the management of things with which we have to do and depend upon our own wisdom for success, we are taking a burden which God has not given us and are trying to bear it with out His aid.  We are taking upon ourselves the responsibility that belongs to God, and thus are really putting ourselves in His place.  We may well have anxiety and anticipate danger and loss, for it is certain to befall us.  But when we really believe that God loves us and means to do us good, we shall cease to worry about the future.  We shall trust God as a child trusts a loving parent.  Then our troubles and torments will disappear, for our will is swallowed up in the will of God.(2MCP468.3)
I don’t want to do God’s job, do you?  And if it’s not my job, then I don’t have to worry about it!  Cool.  That makes not worrying a whole lot easier than I thought.  What a relief!  Because we have lots of proof in the Bible that God only wants what’s best for us.  He is our Good Shepherd and our loving Father.  Jesus gave His life to give us the best future He could and He wants our present to be good as well. 
For I am conscious of my thoughts about you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you hope at the end."  (Jer 29:11 BBE)
If you’re not convinced yet, that God is taking care of us so that there is nothing left for us to worry about, here’s one last E. G. White quote:
“Our heavenly Father measures and weighs every trial before He permits it to come upon the believer.  He considers the circumstances and the strength of the one who is to stand under the proving and test of God, and He never permits the temptations to be greater than the capacity of resistance.”(2MCP473.2)

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