WORRY and Peace

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“How little we have, I thought, between us and the waiting cold, the mystery, death–a strip of beach, a hill, a few walls of wood or stone, a little fire–and tomorrow’s sun, rising and warming us, tomorrow’s hope of peace and better weather . . . What if tomorrow vanished in the storm? What if time stood still? And yesterday–if once we lost our way, blundered in the storm–would we find yesterday again ahead of us, where we had thought tomorrow’s sun would rise?” (Robert Nathan)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

The opening passage is characterised by those ominous words: “What if…?” which in my own experience tend to presage a flood of worry. In point of statistical fact, apparently 40% of what we worry about will never happen. 30% has already happened. 12% is unfounded criticism from others. 10% is our health. The last 8% form the actual problems we have to do something about. Given the total accuracy of these figures (and, as everyone knows, online statistics undergo stringent examination to ensure total accuracy), then that means that 92% of worry is useless.

And worrying about the 8% didn’t help the situation anyway.

Back in Matthew 6, we find this: “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss …”

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 :25-34 form one of those alarmingly all-embracing feel-good passages that is often distilled into that familiar song: “Don’t worry, be happy.” I use the word “alarmingly” advisedly, having been on the receiving end of them often enough! Have you ever had those words said to you? Did it work? Probably not! Because it’s easy to say, but hard to do.  It is one thing to tell someone “Just don’t worry about it”,

But it is another thing to tell them how they are supposed to keep from worrying about it! I could remind you that worry causes ulcers and high blood pressure, but what would that make you do?

Worry some more.

But there’s a significant point here:

Worry is not a weakness, it’s a wrong direction

There’s a “tough but true” background to the words of Jesus. It is this: Worry is not simply a weakness…it is a totally wrong direction of your thinking processes. It’s something that needs to be faced up to and disavowed.

But be honest: we all worry, don’t we?

  • The ignorant worry because they don’t know enough.
  • The knowledgeable worry because they know too much.
  • The rich worry because they are afraid of losing what they have.
  • The poor worry because they don’t have enough.
  • The old worry because they are facing death.
  • The young worry because they are facing life.

And yet, in the words of the old cliché: “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”

So how do you stop?

We think that it’s all down to the troublesome circumstances that we have to constantly manoeuvre around (like those little bollards in a driving test), but ultimately the circumstances themselves really don’t matter. We can worry whether or not!

Happiness is a choice, but it’s hard to make that choice.

Worry is the opposite of faith [last phrase of v. 30], but even faith is hard to come by oftentimes. So, we need some help… 3 times this passage says to us, ‘Take no thought…’ That means don’t worry. But again God redirects us to channel our thoughts in another direction, replacing bad thoughts with good ones…

Jesus offers three straightforward comebacks to the endemic issue of worry in Matthew 6 and how to “think yourself happy.”. First, think of how great God is. He provides (v26, 28); He values his people. (“Are you not more valuable…?)

Second: Trust in how gracious God is (vv30-3) as a host. Think about what he does and why he does it. He is the quintessential Father.

Third, stand upon that goodness (vv 33,34). It’s like a “warranty” that whatever happens, you will be covered.

So how do you keep from worry? The truth sets you free. And the truth is that you have a Father, and He loves you.

Constantly, exuberantly, passionately. You are LOVED.
Matthew 6 lists some obvious causes of worry—we worry about food, clothing, health [v27], and the future [v34]. It’s astonishingly relevant, isn’t it? It reads almost like the table of contents in most glossy monthly magazines! Ever wondered if there’s a connection? They are peddling quick-fit answers to the same issues that Jesus raised in the first century.

So -when the worry rises in you- remember a couple of things. Remember the “Father Factor”. [v. 32]. He wants the best for His children. (Matt 10:29-31): “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. [30] But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. [31] Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” That last bit is a joke, you know. I think Jesus was smiling when he said it. He meant something very serious, however. He meant to remind us that we are valuable. Many times we just don’t take that consideration seriously enough. We treat ourselves with contempt. We even press the self-destruct button from time to time.

But more often, we try to carry the weight of life ourselves. I once had a “One-Ton Pick Up Truck” which I once loaded up with about 2 tons of topsoil from a quarry. It was a scary ride, and I nearly crashed. I was trying too hard. Who gave it that designation “One-Ton Pick-Up”? Not the painter or the dealer. It was the designer: the one who had equipped it to carry certain loads. And no more!

The point of view of the Bible is clear: God is our creator and he designed us to work a certain way. Psalm 103:14 says “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”  He knows what we can handle.

And Worry is extra freight that we are not intended to carry. Jesus is reminding us that the Manufacturer knows best: Follow His instructions. Drop the load and lighten up!

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