Are you a worrier? Most of us at some point probably are. Let’s face it — there’s a lot to worry about these days. And of course, worry does have its place. But worry can also weigh us down, can’t it? Sometimes it can even make us sick.
This week as we continue our Facing Life’s Storms churchwide worship series with “When You’re Worried Sick,” we’ll be looking together at the specific passage in the Sermon on the Mount about worry.
As we all know, some people are just more prone to worry than others. They’re just wired that way. I also want to draw a distinction here between worry and caution. Caution is a “prudent carefulness.” It’s worry that has a purpose — it keeps us safe, helps us plan, and urges us to consider what can happen. It’s how we can come up with Plan A, Plan B, and sometimes, Plan C.
However, when we talk about being worried sick, we’re talking about something else entirely. This is worry that weighs us down, robs us of living life joyfully and in the present, and sometimes makes us so overly cautious that we don’t act.
So, what do we do with all that worry to keep it from weighing us down, holding us back, robbing us of joy?
In this passage from Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tell us that the opposite of worry is trust. That is what Jesus is getting at when he tells us to “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?”
Pushing back on this a little bit, we might say, “you’ve got to plan, think about what you will wear, right? We’re not birds or flowers. What is Jesus really getting at?”
I think it’s about living life in the present and trusting God. Managing our worry and being intentional about where we put our focus. Staying where life is lived in the present time — keeping our minds, when we can, somewhere in between the past and the future and committing ourselves to living in trust.
No, there isn’t a magic switch we can install in our minds to turn worry off. Or a magic pill that cures chronic worry. Most people have periods in their lives that are periods of worry. When our kids are small. When our girls were teenagers and we couldn’t reach them, of course we worried.
For me, it all comes down to remembering the presence of God — always — and the provision of God, as Jesus alludes to in this passage of scripture. It’s learning to consciously interrupt worry with the reminder of God’s presence. Even so, sometimes even the little things will still bother and worry me.
What do you worry about? When has worry dragged you down or even made you sick? What would it take to get yourself into a place of being able to catch yourself worrying and remember the presence of God in your own life?
I look forward to exploring these ideas with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster