- Keeping It Together When It Is Falling Apart – Stress from Worry
- Matthew 6: 25-34
- Lyndol Loyd March 29, 2020
Good morning Church! Thank you for joining us virtually this morning through our Facebook live stream.
It has certainly been an interesting week as we have begun to settle into our “new normal”:
- We are practicing social distancing and working from home in many cases. Some of us never thought we would miss our coworkers quite so much.
- Parents of school-age children are challenged with keeping up their regular jobs while at the same time trying to make sure that their children begin to live into the requirements of distance learning. (I’d dare say that there is a whole new appreciation for what teachers do on a daily basis.)
- After more family togetherness than many of us are used to experiencing on a day in day out basis, it might seem like the walls of your home are starting to close in on you just a bit. To even complain about your situation can make you feel guilty because we all know that there are others who have it so much worse than us on a daily basis.
- Our hearts go out to those we know who are experiencing job losses as a result of the actions we need to take. I also think about small business owners who find themselves stretched to their limits. By the way, if you know someone who is struggling right now and in need of assistance, please contact us at the church office so we can try to assist how we can.
- I think about children for whom school is their safe place and now they find themselves all day every day in volatile, dysfunctional situations or in homes where there is a question about where their meals will come from.
- I think about the elderly who are already some of our must vulnerable members and what it means for them to be isolated in many cases from the people who love them.
- I think about those who are experiencing health issues whether they are related to Coronavirus or not, and how complex it is to receive basic medical treatment right now. I think about our doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who are putting themselves at risk every day they go to work.
- I also wonder what it must be like to be an elected official at a local, state, or federal level right now faced with the daunting task of making wise decisions for those they represent and lead.
Add all of this together, and it can start to feel like there are more than enough reasons for us to be worried right now.
Even pre-Coronavirus, many of us were prone to worry about life. If we are completely candid, most of us worry about something much of the time. And why not! There is plenty to worry about. We can worry about bills and having enough money to pay them. We can worry about our jobs and how secure they are. We can worry if we will ever marry or if we can stay married. We can worry about our children’s safety or if they will ever amount to anything. We can worry about the economy. We can worry about the stock market. We can worry about the possibility of war or a lack of world peace.
Some of us are more prone to worry. Take my late grandmother, for example. She lived into her 80’s, and if she had to list her profession in her later years, I can tell you without reservation that she could have held the title of “Worrywart in residence.”
Grandma worried about all sorts of things. She was a child of the Depression and knew what it was to experience difficult times. She was always worried about not having everything she might need. She worried about not having enough food, so she kept multiple cases of canned goods underneath her bed just in case of an emergency.
She worried about her furniture lasting long enough, so she kept all of the seats and backs of her furniture covered with crocheted afghans and blankets – not because it was decorative, but because she wanted it protected from wear and tear.
She worried about her electric bill being too high, so she used as few lights as possible. She watched the news all day long, and that gave her a whole new list of things to worry about in the world.
Prior to living in a nursing home the last few years of her life, her health wasn’t everything that it had once been in her earlier years. She resigned herself to living within the four walls of her home other than to venture out for doctor’s appointments. She didn’t leave the confines of her home because she was afraid she would fall. It seemed to me that she could just as easily have fallen inside her house.
She wouldn’t ride to my parent’s home less than an hour away because her legs might become stiff. This seemed to happen no matter if she rode in a car or sat in her chair.
She wouldn’t get in the car to go to a restaurant because it might make her feel tired. I used to wonder if that was really the worst thing that could happen to her?
When she wasn’t worried about herself, she worried about everyone else. She worried about my parents. She worried about me. She worried about my sister. She worried about my aunt and uncle. She worried about her sister. She worried about my cousins.
I loved my grandmother dearly, and I always knew that she loved me, but my point in telling you about her is that she allowed worry to define the parameters of her life. Worry acted like a thief that robbed her of contentment, opportunity, and joy in day to day life.
It wasn’t always that way. It is something that began small and became larger over time. In some ways, I think my grandmother’s experience functions as a cautionary tale to all of us today. If we aren’t careful, the worry we allow to take root in our hearts and minds today will end up shaping and molding us. It will end up sucking the life out of us. Surely God wants something better for each of us than a life wrapped in worry.
There is no doubt that life gives us a great deal to worry about – but should we worry? It is a question worth answering, and fortunately for us, Jesus did. Jesus answered that question with a resounding “No!” in Matthew 6:25-34.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
There is another way when it comes to worrying. Jesus offers us a new perspective and a concrete alternative. Note his argument. He begins by commanding us not to worry. Jesus says, “Don’t do it.”
He pulls no punches. He commands us not to worry about the most basic of life’s issues: food, drink, and clothing – things we all need in order to survive. Without any one of these things, we will die, and yet Jesus instructs us not to worry about them.
Worry is irreverent, for it fails to recognize the God who gave us life and is sustaining it. God promises us that He will never leave us or abandon us. He promises to be there for us.
Worry is irrelevant because it does not change things, nor does it help us in coping with the problem. If it is going to rain today, we might as well let it go ahead and rain because there isn’t any way for us to control it.
Worry is irresponsible because it burns up mental energy without using it to apply constructive action to the problem. We can spend hours allowing worry to make tracks across our minds, but it doesn’t mean that it is going to get us anywhere.
Jesus goes on in our Scripture passage to give us the reason why we need not worry. We have a powerful God who cares for us. We serve a God who keeps our best interest as His primary concern. A life lived in worry makes the statement that we don’t necessarily believe that is true. But because God does care, is concerned, and wants the best for us, we need to shift our basic attitude in life from worry to faith.
Have you ever noticed how two people can have completely different perspectives when they are in the midst of the same circumstances? One can be calm and serene. The other is a nervous wreck.
Worry isn’t a result of circumstances. Worry comes from the condition of our hearts. Do we have hearts overwhelmed with worry, or do we have hearts sustained by faith?
When my girls were little, I used to help give them their baths. As a part of our bath time routine, I usually washed their hair because there is no telling what they had managed to get in it.
After I gave their hair a good lather, it was time to rinse. Invariably we would have a problem because water would get into their eyes, and the soap of the shampoo burned them. I would try to keep the soap and water off of their faces, but it is difficult to do when you have a moving target.
I would always ask them to look up to the ceiling so that I could rinse off their hair. They would always look up, but something about hearing the water splash against their hair always caused them to look down; therefore, our problem took place.
As their father, it would frustrate me because I hated seeing my children go through such irritation. I told them the right thing to do. It was just difficult for them to believe. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t how God feels with us.
He tells us to look up to Him. He tells us to stay focused and have faith. Often times, rather than focusing upon Him, we look down rather than trusting that what He is saying to us is true. We get worried, and we begin to take life into our own hands and start doing things our own way.
Has anyone been trying to look up, but when push comes to shove, you find yourself looking back down and “burning your eyes” in the process? Has anyone been guilty of taking life into your own hands lately?
I think it is interesting for us to note that the word “worry” is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word which means “to choke.” It creates a vivid word picture for us, doesn’t it? How well named the emotion. Over and over again, people give up the joy, peace, and contentment of their lives to the strangling effects of worry.
Maybe you feel like worry has both hands around your neck right now trying to choke the very life out of you. I wonder what kinds of worry fill your life today? What are you allowing to consume your mental, emotional, and spiritual energy? Something tells me that isn’t a difficult question for many of us to answer.
Maybe what some of us are in need of is a spiritual Heimlich maneuver?
Worry is the advance interest we pay on troubles that seldom come our way. That being the case, I would have to say that interest rates are too high. Worry is much too great of a sacrifice to pay, considering the results that it brings.
Did you know that:
- 40% of what we worry about will probably never happen
- 30% of our worries concern past decisions we cannot now undo
- 12% deals with other people’s criticism, beyond our control
- 10% deals with concerns over our health which only gets worse by worrying
That means that over 90% of what most of us worry about is a waste.
Jesus ends his words concerning worry, where He began, by telling us not to worry. Specifically, we are to forget about the future and focus on the present. We can do little about what lies ahead, but we can face and deal with what is now at the present moment.
Jesus’ word to us was, more than anything else, that we need to put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be ours as well. Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. We have enough to worry about today. It is difficult to worry when we are focusing our hearts and minds on the things that God has for us today.
I realize that some of you are carrying a huge load of worry on your shoulders. You have complex problems, broken relationships, and situations that burden you. I know this because of what you share with me in private conversations and the kinds of things you write down as prayer requests on the back of your information cards each week.
All kinds of matters are on our hearts and minds, from homes that need to be sold to loved ones who are in need of healing, from relationships that need to be restored to financial matters that need to be fixed. And certainly, we are all concerned about Covid-19.
Some of you are in the midst of trials and crises that have you so stressed out with worry you don’t know what to do about it.
Today I want to encourage you to take the load that you have been attempting to bear alone off your back and to place it at the feet of Jesus Christ. His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He is the one who can carry us when all of our strength is gone.
I encourage you to replace the spot that worry fills inside your soul with faith in Jesus Christ. We have a powerful heavenly Father who is in control. He believes in His children, and we will not be forsaken. God sees your need, and His greatest desire is to meet you at the point of your need.
A good word for each one of us today comes from Isaiah 26:3 which says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
For some of you, that is the best news you have heard in a long, long time. Many of us could use some peace.