By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Dean Inge once said that worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Another person said that “worry, like a rocking chair, will give you something to do, but it won’t get you there.” In Canada today, there are all kinds of things to worry about if we let ourselves: the economy, the health crisis, the epidemic of broken marriages. But the truth is that worry is completely worthless, Worry drains away our energy for living, and makes us far less efficient and productive. Research shows that 95% of the things we worry about never actually happen. From a cost/benefit analysis, worrying is not worth the bother. That is why the most famous person on earth said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Many of you reading this article will be thinking: “Yes, I agree that worry is a waste of energy, but how can I stop worrying?” One helpful solution is to view worry as an addiction, just like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Addictions are broken, by admitting our powerlessness over our addiction (worry) and turning to a power higher than ourselves. Jesus said that the solution to worry is to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness . . .” We worry most about things over which we have the least control. We feel most secure and in control when we think that we have our life figured out. Yet often our very desire to be in control causes us to alienate the ones we care for most, whether at home or at work. When we feel in control, others tend to feel controlled by us, and will often distance themselves from us. As we give over our need for control to our Higher Power, then we stop pushing others away from us.
Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for popularizing the phrase “One Day at a Time.” Very few alcoholics can imagine being sober for the rest of their lives, or even for one year. But they can imagine being sober for one day. Similarly the solution to worry is found in focusing our energy on today’s concerns, rather than tomorrow’s
That is why Jesus said:
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” It is the future that we worry the most about. The future scares us more than our past or present, because we can’t control it. As one person said, “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday!” Yet worry is broken when we realize that Jesus is the Lord (in control) of our future, as well of our past and present.
That is why Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Viewed from that perspective, worry is essentially a failure to trust God with our problems. If we can really trust that God is in control and will never desert us, worry ceases to paralyze us.
My prayer for those reading this article is that we all will learn to break our worry addictions, and leave them “in the hand of the Man who stilled the Waters.”
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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