Have you worried much about things at work recently? Are you
worried now? If so you are certainly not alone. Most surveys reveal
increasing levels of anxiety in the working population. Jesus once asked the question, “Why do you worry?” It’s a good question and the answer is not all that obvious. Sure we can list our worries under
headings such as financial, professional, personnel, workload, time
pressures, deadlines and so on but that tells us what we worry about
not why we worry.
“Consider the birds – they don’t go out to work yet God feeds them,”
says Jesus (I’m paraphrasing here). Similarly, “consider the flowers who
don’t stay at home to work yet God clothes them.” So “Why do you
worry about clothes and food?” he asks – but we do.
He further points out that worrying doesn’t add an hour to your life or
centimetre to your height. (In fact as a stress consultant I know that
worry can and does reduce both life expectancy and interestingly
affects growth rate, so the opposite is true). Worry, then, is worse than
a waste of time – it’s damaging to our health.
At a recent teachers’ conference one speaker spoke of her hatred of
Sunday nights because of gearing up for Monday morning. Many city
workers have told me of their rising dread as Sunday draws to a close
and they consider the imminent start of a new working week.
If you add ‘pre’ to the word occupation you get ‘pre-occupation’. If you
change the first part of the word ‘participation’ you get ‘anticipation’.
Here is the clue as to why we worry. We have the ability to become
pre-occupied. To imagine in advance what might go wrong and then
become anxious about possible outcomes. Instead of participating in
the present moment we anticipate the next ones and we anticipate
problems. We concentrate on ‘there may be trouble ahead’ rather
than ‘lets dance’.
Worry is always about the future and a possible dreadful scenario. The
reason we humans are so good at it is because we have brains big
enough to imagine the future. So we worry.
But you say, “‘If I don’t worry now I’ll end up in trouble; I won’t be
prepared.” Then plan or work but don’t worry. The words of the wise
are full of powerful advice on planning. But they unite on the futility of
A better plan would be to seek God’s rule first and his way of right
living and let him take care of the supplies. By all means plan and
prepare but worry is a waste of time. Remember you only worry
because you can imagine the future – that’s why Jesus’ full question was
“Why do you worry about tomorrow?” That’s why he also said, “I will be with you always.”
25″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? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30If 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, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
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