Are you worried about something today? If you’re like most people, you’re probably worried about your weight. It might not be at the top of your list, but according to a survey by Beneden Health in the UK, it’s the # 1 concern for most people. Here are the top ten concerns according to this poll (countdown from # 10 to # 1):
9. Job security
8. Rent / mortgage payment
7. Credit card debt
6. Low energy level
5. Overdrafts and loans
4. General form
3. Lack of savings / financial future
Don’t you think it’s ironic that many of us worry the most about overeating on Thanksgiving Day, when Jesus teaches us in his Sermon on the Mount, “… don’t worry about your life, what you’re going to eat or drink; or on your body, whatever you will be wearing. . . “? Many of us would say, “I thank the Lord. He gives us permission to please ourselves… And not to feel guilty.
Jesus asks us not to worry about what we eat and in Britain at least the thing they worry about the most is their weight. I wonder how you and I would come out on this same poll? Fortunately, our text is not about gluttony, but about worry which is a big problem in the lives of many people.
I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand if you’re worried. Few of us need to worry about our life, what we are going to eat or drink; or on our body, whatever we will wear. . . But we still cherish the words of Christ:
“Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? he asks. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more precious than them? Can any of you worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why are you worried about the clothes?” See how the wildflowers grow. They do not work and do not rotate. Yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of them. If this is how God dresses the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is cast into the fire, will he not dress you much more, you of little faith? So don’t worry about saying, “What will we eat? or “What shall we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For the Gentiles run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows you need them. But first seek his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will also be given to you. “
Worry is a destructive force in our lives that seldom does good. Forty percent of all adults suffer from health problems due to worry and stress, and about 50% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related disorders.
The same poll that asked people what they were worried about also asked people how much time they spent worrying. Here’s what they found: Every week we spend about 2:30 p.m. worrying. “This equates to 744 hours of worrying each year. Which turns into 45,243 hours of worry in a lifetime. This is equivalent to 1,885 days in a lifetime of doing nothing but worrying. Which means we spend 5.2 years of life consumed with worry. It’s a long time feeling stuck in knots worrying about something that probably won’t happen anyway.
Do you know why a lot of people worry? Worry replaces faith. Worry does for some people what faith does for others. Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t tell me that doesn’t help worry. Most of the things I worry about never happen! They really mean that. Some people genuinely fear that if they don’t worry, what they fear will happen.
Thomas Borkovec, professor of psychology at Penn State University, is an expert in the field of worry. He emphasizes that the habit of worrying is reinforced as well as the superstitions.
“Since people are worried about a lot of things that have a very low probability of happening – a loved one dying in a plane crash, going bankrupt, etc. – there is, for the primitive limbic brain at least, something magical about worry. Like an amulet that ward off anticipated evil, worrying psychologically has the merit of preventing the danger that obsesses it.
So, some people worry because, in a primitive way, they believe it takes the danger away. In a sense, they substitute worry for God. But there is a better way to manage our life.
This brings us to Thanksgiving. The best prevention for worrying is to focus our minds on recognizing God. You and I can trust God to handle any situation we may face and then relax. God’s resources are greater than our resources. We can live our lives in perpetual praise to God for His goodness, and the fear and worry will disappear.
As RG Létourneau said, “Worry and trust cannot live in the same house. When worry is allowed to enter through one door, trust comes out through the other door; and the worry remains until the trust is invited again, after which the worry goes away. How true.
Notice Jesus’ words: “Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more precious than them? Do you see why we don’t have to worry? It is because we are precious to God. Do you believe that we are precious to God? The God who created the heavens and the earth and everything that exists on them cares about you and me. What are we worried about? “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, reap, or store in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Then he adds a very handy warning: “Can any of you worrying add a single hour to your life?” “ No, we can’t, but we can certainly take many hours, days, months, or even years of our lives indulging in exercise that can poison every cell in our body. It is worry.
There is a popular Bible app from an organization called YouVersion, which allows us to read or listen to the Bible on our cell phone. This application has 400 million users worldwide. Recently, the group that produced this app announced that last year’s most popular bible verse on this app was Philippians 4: 6 ” Do not worry about anything ; rather pray for everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. This is the most popular verse in the Bible according to this survey: ” Do not worry about anything ; rather pray for everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.
Friends are the secret to a carefree life. You and I cannot maintain a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of anxiety at the same time. But what if we are having a bad day? How can we maintain a spirit of gratitude when so much is going on miserably and praying doesn’t seem to help?
A few years ago, Pastor Ray Pritchard captured a few minutes of an interview with Hamilton Jordan, Chief of Staff to President Jimmy Carter. Some of you may remember Jordan. He had written a book with the intriguing title, No Such Thing as a Bad Day. It’s her own story about being diagnosed with cancer three times before the age of 50.
“Where does the title come from? “ asked the interviewer.
Hamilton Jordan said he called a friend who is also a father of several young children and who also battles cancer.
After chatting for a bit, Mr. Jordan asked him: “Are you having a bad day?” “
This man replied, “When the doctors tell you that you only have three months to live, there isn’t a bad day.” Think about it for a moment. If we only had three months to live, wouldn’t we appreciate each of them? This is when we begin to appreciate life and those around us.
As you and I reflect on some of the events in our lives this Thanksgiving, I invite us to ask ourselves this question. “If there hadn’t been God? “ This is the question I would like us to focus on for the next four days leading up to Thanksgiving. Where would you and I be right now if it wasn’t for God? Where would we be? Would we be: Isolated? Mentally broken? Financially ruined? Physically destroyed? God has not let us down. So, let’s not despair!
When you and I sit down with the family, look around and ask ourselves, where would we be without her? Where would we be without him? And then think about where would we be without God?
The apostle Paul wrote: “In all, thank. “ It is not the test of faith to give thanks when the sun is shining. The test comes when we have been knocked down.
From great suffering came the greatest expressions of gratitude. There is a great reward in learning to give thanks to God with whom we plan to spend eternity. Time and time again, the scriptures make it clear that God rejoices with a grateful heart. Therefore, may our prayer be “God, who has given us so much, we pray that you will grant us one more thing, grateful hearts. “ Learning to be grateful helps us not to become anxious or discouraged.
You and I can celebrate Thanksgiving knowing that God is good. When you and I are truly grateful, we come to understand that God’s mercies last forever. There will be no end to the love of God.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you and I not much more valuable than them? This is the main reason to thank. We are more valuable to God. He cares about us so much that he gave his beloved Son on our behalf. Do not worry about anything. Relax knowing that God loves you.
Reverend Charles Eldredge is pastor of the Maitland Brothers Church in Lewistown, Pa., Where he is currently serving in his 28th year. He graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.