Summary: Why do we worry? How can we stop?
How many people here this morning would like to learn how to worry more? How many of you feel that your life would be improved if only you could spend more time worrying? None.
· Whether you know worry as an occasional visitor or a constant companion,
· whether you find it to be mildly uncomfortable or intensely painful,
· or whether you experience worry as a slight distraction or as a force that completely immobilizes you,
· we all would like to worry less (except for those only seem happy when they’re miserable).
The good news is that you can worry less. God has given us an antidote. It may surprise you to learn that God has something to say about worry. In His book, filled with cosmic events like the creation of the universe, heaven and hell, the rise and fall of kingdoms, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He also considers it important to give us some help with this very ordinary human emotion. Why is that? Because He’s not just a God out there somewhere. He’s a God here, with us.
Why do we worry?
1. Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people, to bad people, and everyone in between.
Even the wealthy and powerful aren’t exempt. All you have to do is glance at the National Enquirer to see that they have their share of tragedy. [Example: Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris Spielman retiring due to a neck injury]
Now, so far this seems pretty depressing. But before we get to the really good news, we have to face the bad news. I live in a real world, and I want a religion that deals with reality. Don’t you? I don’t want a religion that plays, "let’s pretend." I want a faith that can stand up to whatever the world has to give, and still come out on top.
You may be saying, "Of course, life is hard. I already know that." But isn’t it amazing how often people try to avoid worry by pretending, by putting on blinders, by avoiding the issue, by refusing to acknowledge the possibility of anything going wrong. It’s like the song, "Don’t worry, be happy."
· We men are especially good at this. Our wives try to talk with us about something that’s obviously bothering us, and we say, "I don’t want to talk about it." Somehow, we think that if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen. Men don’t go to doctors. What we don’t know can’t hurt us.
· How many of you, when you are dealing with some serious problem, have had someone say, "don’t worry, I’m sure everything will work out."
· Or we become fatalistic. "What will happen, will happen. Why worry about it?"
Of course, it doesn’t work, does it? All this does is transfer the worry from your mind to your gut. And if the worst does come to pass, then you’re completely unprepared. What we need is something that will allow us to face reality, but without becoming consumed by anxiety and worry.
2. Second, the future is uncertain. Another obvious statement, but we worry because we don’t know what the future holds. Not only are there dangers we know about and can make some preparation for, but there are dangers which are completely unexpected. [Example: The most common sign of heart disease is sudden death.]
We can prepare as best we know how. We can watch our diets and exercise to prevent heart attack. We can stockpile food and water to prepare for Y2K. But the bottom line is that the future is unknowable. Oh we try. But as your doctor will tell you, and in spite of what the Psychic hotlines tell you, no one can predict the future. People try to avoid worry by gaining so much knowledge that they can predict the future, but ultimately the future is unknowable.
And that’s very unsettling. How often have you heard someone say, "It’s the waiting that’s the worst part. If I only knew, I could deal with it." What we need is something that will allow us to have peace in the midst of uncertainty.
3. Third, We’re not in control. What I mean by that is that the amount of control we have is not sufficient to absolutely protect us from harm. At best, we have only the illusion of control. If we were in control, then no one would every suffer. We can improve our odds, but even experts can’t guarantee the outcome. Doctors get sick. Financial experts lose money in the stock market. Policemen get robbed. Lawyers get sued. Good, loving, responsible parents are rejected by their teenage and adult children.
We work and work to gain money and knowledge, so that we can ward off danger. We eat right, we exercise, we move to a good suburb, we send our kids to a good school, we do everything we can --- but it’s still not enough. If president Reagan could be shot by some deluded kid with a gun, then no one is powerful to make themselves absolutely safe. We need something that will allow us to have peace even in the midst of events and forces we can’t control.