World events, like Russia invading the Ukraine to steal the Crimean peninsula (which many believe is a precursor to World War Three); news reports of natural disasters all across the planet; the deadly Ebola virus spreading throughout West Africa; the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner with 239 passengers on board; the constant intrusion into our private lives by an administration bent on reshaping the American dream as we once knew it; and now we have a bloody lunar eclipse that many are convinced is the beginning of the end for the world, don’t ease our worries.
Worry isn’t something that only happens when times are rough and scary, because long before 9/11, men had plenty to worry about. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich and famous or down and out, millions of men are one heart attack away from pushing up daises.
But as bad as things are today, Americans still live in the most powerfully affluent society in the world. Never before have so many of the poorest people of a country suffered from obesity. In the United States, the poor own cars, cell phones, computers, televisions, and stereos. They have money in the bank, and still the government supplies them free food and a place to live. In study after study, statistics tell the same story, whether rich or poor, Americans are fat and out of shape.
Even if a person finds it difficult to get help from the hundreds of social justice programs, there are web sites teaching the poor and homeless how to properly dumpster dive. These sites cover almost every large city to help direct a person to the dumpsters with the best stuff, like bikes, microwaves, phones, computers, televisions, stereos, and clothes. Yet, the politicians still run on platforms saying they worry that the poor do not have enough.
With our current system under attack by Obamacare, America still has the best healthcare system in the world. A few years ago, 20% of the population worried it wasn’t good enough. So Obama and the Democrats decided they would fix it. Now four years later, 60% of the citizens worry that it’s no longer good enough. As you can see, even when things supposedly get fixed, people worry.
Americans worry so much that, as recently as 2010, a medical journal reported how doctors considered anxiety to be the number one medical problem in America. Forty million American adults over 18 years old suffer from this disorder. Over 23 million websites are dedicated to helping those with anxieties and worries. It’s quite interesting what some people worry about.
One website asked people to email them about their biggest fears. One man wrote how he worried about the day he decides not to pay to join the lottery at work, will be the day group wins. Then he feared he would be stuck doing all the work because everyone else would have quit. Another person reportedly worried that someone would slice off the tips of their fingers if they fell down while ice skating. A woman said she worried, if companies stopped making chocolate, she would starve to death.
Until the recession hit, I was convinced that America was an anxiety-laden society, because we really didn’t have any problems. Instead, we made them up, and elected politicians to fix things that weren’t broken. A quick look at the current state of affairs in America shows how all our worrying has finally given hundreds of millions of citizens something to really worry about.
Now considering all the problems that exist in our economy, along with the international troubles, and the continued made up problems like global warming, I can see why those in the secular world would worry. However, as Christians, we are told by Paul that we should not be anxious about anything. The Scriptures are replete with examples for us to turn to for advice.
Think about Job’s bad day. Remember how Satan asked God to remove His hedge that protected Job? Satan was convinced he could get Job to curse God. God took Satan up on his bet, and Job lost everything. It began with some Sabine raiders stealing Job’s oxen and donkeys. He lost his sheep and herdsman in a terrible fire. Before a servant had finished giving Job the bad news, some Chaldeans swooped down and killed some other his servants while stealing his camels. Job received the news that all his children perished when a mighty wind collapsed his eldest son’s house where they were feasting. God also allowed Satan to attack Job’s health. So he wasn’t only financially and emotionally wrecked, but also physically tormented.
Was Job worried? Did he ever once bemoan his situation and worry about his next meal, or how he would survive? Nope. Not even after his wife told him to curse God and die, while his three so-called friends told him to repent for sins he did not commit. So what did Job do? He arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground, worshiping God, saying:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord”
In all this, we learn from Scripture that Job did not sin or blame God.
We are told by Jesus that it’s a sin to worry, because when we worry, we are not trusting God to care for us. When a mother holds a baby in her arms, does that baby worry what will happen? No! A child eats something a parent says is okay to eat because the child has faith the parent would not lie. A little boy learns how to ride a bike because his father says, “do not worry I will be right next to you.” Apart from the exceptions to the rule, most parents love and would never purposely do harm to their children. So why do Christians think God would care any less?
Besides being a sin, worry is a total waste of time and energy. Worry can become a substitute for action; instead of acting upon our need, we just sit and worry. Worry warps our perceptions of the world. We begin to think this moment in our life is all that matters, so we stop living, and instead, curl up inside ourselves as if there is nothing else to live for. That’s when people turn to drugs. Others turn to bad relationships. Still others end up committing suicide because everything feels utterly hopeless. How can we as Christians be good witnesses for Jesus if we are hopelessly lost in a flux of worrying like the Israelites were when God used Moses to free them from Egypt?
After God brought His people out of Egypt, the Israelites constantly worried about one thing after another. They worried so much that their lack of faith in God kept them out of the Promised Land for forty years. When the ten spies Moses sent to check out the Promised Land returned with the news that it was flowing with milk and honey, the Israelites refused to listen to Caleb and Joshua who gave a report that the land was theirs for the taking if they would only trust God.
What did the Israelites do? They believed the eight who gave a bad report of the land, and God punished the Israelites for it. They worried that God could not defeat the Canaanites for them. They worried that their women and children would suffer and die if they attempted to take the land God promised them. In reality, the whole generation of former slaves died in the desert, and their children inherited the land.
Consider the story of David and Goliath. Goliath kept all of Israel at bay for forty days. The Israeli soldiers worried they could not defeat Goliath. A teenage boy, who had faith in God the size of a mustard seed, slew the Philistine giant and cut his head off with his own sword.
The prophet, Elijah, challenged 850 prophets of Baal and Ashura to a contest on Mount Carmel. Each side was to offer a bull as a sacrifice to their god without starting the fire. The first one to have their fire started by their god would prove who was the real god. The prophets of Baal and Ashura danced and chanted all day while cutting themselves until dusk. When the sun began to set, they knew their gods had failed them. Elijah told his young helpers to fill the trench with water until the wood floated. He stepped up and said a simple little prayer of faith. God sent fire to earth that consumed his bull, the false prophet’s bull, the wood, stones, dust, water, and the false prophets.
When it all seems hopeless, just ask yourself: Did Elijah worry? Did Job worry? Do you think Caleb and Joshua worried? How about that teenage shepherd boy? Was he worried? If those incidents don’t convince you, I suggest you go read about the night Daniel spent in the hungry lion’s den, or how about a more modern act of faith in God?
Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid the Jews and resistance fighters from the Nazis until they were betrayed. Corrie’s father, brother, sister, and nephew all died in concentration camps because their faith was stronger than their fear of the Nazis. Corrie herself eventually survived several prison camps, including the infamous Ravensbruck Concentration Camp located near Berlin. Years later she would write, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” Her family’s faith in God is a modern day testament of why Christians should not worry.
The German word for worry is “Wurgen”, pronounced Vergen, which actually means to “Strangle” or “Choke.” I like this because Jesus said in the parable of the sower that the seed is like the word of God. Some fell among thorns; the thorns sprang up and choked them. Christ tells us that this is he who received the word but had it choked away by the stress and worries of this world. “O ye of little faith,” He didn’t say “Ye of no faith,” but “Ye of little faith.”
For many Christians, their faith is confined to only one phase of their life – their salvation. The ultimate result of worrying is becoming a Christian of “Little Faith.” When we exhibit little faith, we become mastered by the circumstances around us, instead of mastering those circumstances. Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about how sufferings and trials will not last forever. Are you satisfied just to be out of Egypt? Are you afraid to face the Canaanites and possess the Promised Land?
If testaments of faith do not convince you to stop worrying, then how about some medical advice? It is calculated that over 50 million Americans suffer health problems directly or indirectly related to worrying:
- Loss of sleep is the first direct noticeable effect of worrying. In time stress will break down a body’s ability to resist disease and fight illnesses.
- A recent study showed that stress caused by worrying was the number two cause of memory loss.
- A recent study of students at 21 universities found that worriers get lower grades then non-worriers.
- A British eye clinic reported that 30% of all vision problems were directly related to stress or worrying.
- An American Dental Association study showed that worrying restricts the proper flow of saliva in the mouth, thus keeping the body from neutralizing the acids that eat away the enamel on your teeth. So, worrying can cause tooth decay.
- The American Medical Association says stress is the number one cause of heart attacks. Worrying causes a person’s heart to work harder. This puts extra stress on a person’s cardiovascular system. This extra stress can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
So the way I see it, if you want to be a tired, unhealthy, blind, forgetful person with bad teeth, and one stressful day away from a severe heart attack, just keep on worrying. Or you can be like the birds of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather to barns.
Remember, Jesus is talking to you, a Christian of faith, not the unbelievers of the world whose faith is limited by their fear of why Russia is invading the Ukraine. Unlike non-believers, you have faith in God through Christ that eternity awaits you. The question is not IF you have faith, but HOW MUCH faith do you have. Jesus desires for us all to enter into a deeper faith, the faith of a mustard seed. So stop worrying, Christian, and live for Him without fear.