Thursday, November 6, 2014

Goodye Worry Wart

I can't stand the term "worry wart." It makes me think of podiatrists and foot ointment. Yuck. As much as I detest the term I think I detest the character trait that accompanies it with even more passion. A worry wart is "person who tends to dwell unduly on difficulty or troubles."
Again, I say yuck.
Who in the world wants to be in the company of a worry wart? They are downers. Fun-suckers (a little Lindsey Lohan reference for those of you who think I just came up with a new term). Worry warts look at life in shades of grey, more grey and black. There is no light. There is no hope. There are no blue skies and butterflies. The cup is always half empty and the forecasters prediction for 10% chance of rain may as well be 100%. They don't see a silver lining or a light at the end of a tunnel. All they see is gloom, doom and massive amounts of worry.
So what does a worry wart worry about? The question should really be what do they not worry about? Relationships, illness, finances, the weather, the dog, dust... if you can imagine a possible concern the worry wart will be able to dwell on it and become all consumed by it.
It is easy to point to the characteristics of a worry wart and see the flaws in their ways. They are overly negative and pessimistic. They lack a rest and peace. Instead they are wrought with concern and emotional instability, letting the "what ifs" of life control their thought life and outlook.
Yet, despite all that I see wrong with the worry wart, I myself fall into the same troublesome trap. I, too, focus too much on the negative, on what I don't have, on what tomorrow will or will not bring. And I worry about it. I worry so much that today's joy gets sapped right out of my spirit. I step into the shadowy company of a worry wart, pull up a chair and get comfortable.
There is a reason the characteristics of a persistent worrier has such an unappealing name - the characteristics of a persistent worrier in and of themselves are unappealing. Both to man and God. In fact Jesus was so against worry that He spoke against it directly and with crystal clear clarity. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus said,
 “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 than food, and the body more than clothes?  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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Worrying isn't just wrong because it sucks the fun out of a room. It is wrong because Jesus says so! There are many examples of Jesus speaking in parables and stories but this isn't one of them. He came right out and dealt with the matter of worry plainly and concisely so that not one person would miss this important command: do not worry.

Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of Nazi Germany who hid Jews in her home during World War two, said this about worry: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”If there is anyone you can trust (apart from Jesus) on the matter of worry then it would be Corrie ten Boom.
Hiding Jews in Nazi Germany was punishable by death. She faced the possibility of torture in a concentration camp if her acts of disobedience to the Nazi's would have been discovered. She had to feed the hideouts in her home along with her family during a time period when food was scarce and a rise in food coming into her home could have set off suspensions to the authorities. She could have worried about all of these things and more. Needless to say she had countless reasons to be a worry wart. But instead she trusted God. Corrie ten Boom lived according to Matthew 6:25-34.

There is simply no question that worry is unattractive. God doesn't like it. Your friends won't appreciate it. And the name you'll earn for your worrying personality won't be appealing, either. There truly is not a single redeeming quality to worrying.
So why waste another moment worrying? Cast your worries upon the Lord and let Him handle them. He'll do a much better job. After all, all the worry in the world won't change a thing. But God can. God can change everything. Let Him have you worry and let Him have your praise. He commands us to give Him both and in return our burden will be light, our hearts will be at rest and our name won't be one with the word "wart" attached to it.
Can I get an amen?

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