As a young adult, I worried about being sent to Vietnam and I worried about college and I worried about losing my hair. For the record, I had a high draft number and was not sent to Vietnam, but I made a mess of college (boy, did I make a mess of college!) and my hair did fall out.
Later, I worried about married life and I worried about fatherhood and I worried about career decisions. I also worried about money and I worried about my health. By the way, my daughter turned out well and I have never missed a meal and I appear to be reasonably healthy.
Worry takes a toll on one’s physical and mental health. From time to time, we read stories about people who have lived in excess of one hundred years. These centurions usually say that the secret of longevity is in maintaining a worry-free outlook on life. Anyone who lives this long should know.
As for me, I have the ability to worry about really stupid things. About twenty years ago, my car’s engine overheated on a busy road. To this day, I am often preoccupied by the temperature gauge on my automobile’s dashboard.
Well into my middle years, I felt a calling to enter full time ministry, but I worried about finding a job upon the completion of my theological studies. How foolish to think God would call me into ministry without opening a suitable door of opportunity.
Worry is foolish. Need more proof? Years ago, I held a job that I truly despised. It was a rotten job and I hated every minute of every working day. Oddly enough, I spent a lot of time worrying that I would lose this job. Even though the work made me miserable and, in spite of the fact that I performed my duties with accuracy and efficiency, I worried that the boss would sack me. Imagine worrying about losing a job that you absolutely hated! Nonsensical? Oh, yes! But this is precisely what I did!
The late D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries once described worry as paying interest on money that was never borrowed.
There is a difference between worry and concern. Concern is a thoughtful analysis of a given situation. And if this concern leads to an action that will remedy the problem, all is well and good. As to worry, such unbridled feelings of nervous anxiety over events and situations in which we have no real control or in which we fail to responsibility act, are both futile and foolish.
Nothing good comes from worry. Jesus said we are not to worry. He reminds us that in no way does worry improve or enhance the quality of our lives.
Please do not confuse concern with worry. Concern about the meaninglessness of life and a fear of damnation led me to Jesus Christ. In a somewhat similar fashion, concern about lung cancer, heart problems, and pulmonary disease moved me to break the tobacco habit. Had I simply worried about my life or my eternal destiny or my physical health without acting, nothing good would have resulted. Again, this is how we might define worry: useless anxiety that eats at our stomach lining, yet leads to no actions or remedies. And, of course, worry over that which is beyond our control is outlandishly ridiculous.
I cannot control the threats of renegade nations such as North Korea or Iran. I cannot control the outcome of the next election. I cannot control the decline of our nation. My concern over these matters can lead me to voting for the superior candidate (if there is one) and continuing faithfully in the work God has called me to do. Concern can lead me to act rationally, but if I simply worry about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities or the future of this country, what good will come of this?
A cure for worry is faith. I have lived long enough to know that God is trustworthy. When I survey my past, I see that He was with me all along. So why should I think He will abandon me at this late stage in life?
In my better moments, I realize the future is in God’s capable hands. Nothing takes Him by surprise. And, in the end, those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ will live forever with Him. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know about my eternal destiny and, friend, the outlook is absolutely fantastic!