Summary: Researchers estimate that 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for complaints that are, in some way, stress related. Every week 112 million people in the U.S. take some form of medication for stress related symptoms. Our society is worrie
Matthew 6: 25-34
I read this week of another pastor who very early in his ministry preached at a church in Los Angeles. He thought he had done quite well as he stood at the door greeting people as they left the church. He received one compliment after another; that is until one older fellow commented…..you preached too long! It concerned him because everyone else was giving him positive feedback about the message. Then he went back and got in line, came out to greet the pastor again and this time the man said you didn’t preach loud enough. The pastor thought it was odd that he did this but then he noticed the man was in line again. This time he said the words you used are too big. So now the pastor is concerned he goes to one of the deacons and says hey you see that guy over there? Who is he? The deacon says oh don’t pay attention to him. He just goes around repeating everything he hears.
All of us have worries. Yours are not the same as mine; mine are not the same as yours but we all have them. Pastors sometimes worry about their Sunday sermon (1) we worry that we might not have something to say that will be helpful to someone (2) we worry we might not have something new/fresh to say (3) we worry that we might preach too long and that we might not say enough or that the message is clear to us but won’t be to the congregation. Or we worry that when we give the invitation no one will respond.
From week to week all of us have things that we worry about and it occurs to me that most of the things we worry about are the things that really matter to us. Now I know that’s obvious but I also think it’s profound. Maybe we shouldn’t let things become so important to us that they consume us.
There is plenty of free advice out there for people who worry too much. It goes like this
Don’t worry…everything will be OK.
Don’t worry..…be happy.
Don’t worry…just stop thinking about your problems.
Things will get better.
The problem with all of those statements is that they simply don’t work. They might for a few minutes but before we know it we’re right back in that trap called worry. I doubt that there is anyone here today who doesn’t deal with stress or anxiety or worry at least at some level. Every week. It’s just a part of life. And frankly it always will be . In this life you will never conquer it completely but you do have to learn to manage it. Because if you don’t, worry will begin to manage you.
There are 3 words we are using here and though they are not the same they are very connected and we often use them interchangeably. One person may describe how they feel by saying I’m worried; another might say they’re stressed out; and someone else might describe things by saying that they are very anxious about something. And we all mean the same thing.
Let’s sort of begin here with a definition. When I look up the word worry Webster defines it as anxiety. When I look up the word anxiety he defines it as “to be worried” so these words are definitely connected. Or maybe you will identify with this definition of stress I read this week. Stress is that feeling when our mind overrides the body’s basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately deserves it. Interesting definition because the English word worry comes from 2 words that mean to choke or to strangle.
One more. When used in the scripture this word worry means to have a divided mind. That one I understand. That’s exactly what worry does to me. We have a divided mind. And it’s a trap. It’s a trap that Satan uses and I believe it is one of his favorites-certainly one of his most effective. So let me ask you what is it that you worry about? More than anything else what’s on your list? It seems to me that we have two lists. There are things we should worry about or at least have concerns about.
Terrorism . When I think of the level of terrorism that is present in our world today it concerns me. It concerns me because I know that what I know about in this area is only the tip of the iceberg. Because most of the things in this area, we never even hear about.
I worry for my son who daily fights this war against terrorism. I worry for his safety. Today he is in another country involved in that battle and I can’t know exactly where he is. So I worry more.