NEEDLESS WORRY – THE MODERN CROSS WE BEAR

NEEDLESS WORRY – THE MODERN CROSS WE BEAR

Unless we get rid of our TV's and radios plus stopping reading newspapers we will continue to be  subjected to an infinite number of things to worry about. The  most recent is Ebola, but we have terrorist attacks, unpaid bills, political incompetence and multiple other things both personal, national and international to occupy our worrying. So, here are some thoughts about the subject.

Let's start with Scripture. Matthew Chapt 6 says:

"I tell you, therefore, do not worry about your life, about what you are to eat, or what you are to drink;  and do not worry about your body, about what you are to wear. Is not your life more than food and your body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, and see that they do not sow or reap or gather things into storehouses, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable  than they? Who of you can add one hour to his life by worrying about it? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn a lesson from the lilies of the field, from the way in which they grow. They do not toil or spin; but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which exists today, and which is thrown into the oven tomorrow, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

WorryIt has been pointed out that Jesus is not saying we should not work because no one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living.. He is making is making the point that they do not worry. There is no straining to see a future which cannot be seen or finding security in stored up and accumulated things. Furthermore Jesus goes on to point out that in any event worry is useless. It cannot change anything. His recommendation is that we acquire the art of living one day at a time. It is his advice that we should handle the demands of each day as it comes without worrying about the unknown future and things which may never happen.

In the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam it says: "the moving finger writes, and, having writ, moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit, shall bring it back to cancel half a line, nor thy tears wash out a word of." The past is over and worrying about the future is useless.

In his commentary on this passage from Matthew the biblical scholar William Barclay reports about the advice given to  to a son by his father: "Johnny, the thing to do, my lad, is to hold your own head up, and to do it like a gentleman, and please remember the biggest troubles you have got to face are those that never come."

We read in Isaiah 43 "Forget the  former things; do not dwell on the past" and in Philippians 3: "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward  the goal…" The  Great Teresa of Avila had a bookmark in her prayer book that read: "Let  nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you, All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices." And Therese of Lisieux's prayer was: "My life is but an instant, an hour that passes by; A single day that slips my grasp and quickly slips away. O well you know, my dearest God, to love you, I only have today."  Someone has said: "Life's a dance. Take it one step at a time and keep listening for the music."

we choose our attitude and every circumstance. We are responsible for our feelings. Nobody makes us feel angry sad or happy because we choose how we will feel about external events. We should not let any one else decide our day. All we have is right now. Therefore when faced with a problem the question is: "can I do something about it." If the answer is "yes" we need to take action. If the answer is "No" then forget about it because there is nothing to be done. Our goal should be to let into our circle only what we believe or accept about ourselves. We are controlled by what we accept and believe and the most powerful force we have is what we say to ourselves and believe.

The Dalai Lama has said about worry: "If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Winston Churchill once said: "When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened."

Someone has said: "Why worry?

    •  - 40% will never happen, for anxiety is the result of a tired mind,
    • – 30% concerns old decisions which cannot be altered,
    • – 12% centers in criticism, mostly untrue, made by people who feel inferior,
    • – 10% is related to my health which worsens while I worry,
    • and only
    • – 8% is “legitimate,” showing that life does have real problems which

A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him, "Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now." Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.

Beyond faith and prayer, there are practical ways in which to deal with worry:

  1. carefully analyze what it is you are worried about. Write it down. Every aspect of it in detail. Include all the things that are keepng you awake at night and might somehow occur or be involved no matter how remote.
  2. Review the list and create a priority of likelihood with seriousness of risk and consequences. Organize them by priority.
  3. Review the problem and the priority list. Evaluate what possible things you could do about each of them. Make a list of possible reasonable and available actions or steps.
  4. Decide how feasible the solutions are and whether they should be put into action or not. Those problems for which there is nothing one can do about them should be identified and noted. Those that should reasonably be put into action, began an action plan. Ignore and forget everything you can't do anything about it and instead begin activity and worthwhile things you can do.
  5. Once you have taken appropriate action or determined nothing should or could be done accept the situation and live by the hour and the day.

in alcoholics anonymous the serenity prayer of St. Francis is an important part of the process: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

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