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What, me worry?

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Remember the old MAD Magazine character, Alfred E. Neuman, whose line was "What, me worry?" It was a humorous spoof making light of the need to worry about anything. Worry is a mental exercise that all of us engage in, though some more than others. It doesn't produce anything. It uses up valuable time and resources, and it doesn't give us joy or peace of mind.

Most of us realize that worry is counterproductive and a real waste of time and energy, and yet, we do it anyway. People, even those who look to the Bible for guidance and instruction, tend to be worriers, fretting and stewing about many things.

The great philosophers and thinkers have had much to say on this subject. More importantly, the Bible also has much specific, plain instruction on the subject of worry. Since the Bible is, or should be, the ultimate standard for human conduct, it is worth our time to take a brief look at what it says on the subject of worry and anxious thought.

Webster defines "worry" as "mental distress or agitation resulting from concern, usually for something impending or anticipated." It seems that anticipation of problems, real or imagined, is the source of anxiety and troubled minds for most folks.

The late Earl Nightingale, a well-known commentator and motivational speaker wrote many years ago, "Worry is like a dense fog that can cloud our vision, knock our perspective out of kilter, and slow us down." He categorized the things people worry about this way:

40% of what we worry about is things that never happen.

30% of our worries involve things in the past, that can't be changed.

12% is needless worry about our health..

10 % pertains to petty, miscellaneous worries.

Now, you might categorize it a little differently, but he made a very good point, and that is that "92% of worries are pure fog with no substance at all." That leaves about 8% for real, legitimate worries that are worth concerning yourself about.

There is an old proverb that says, "Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."

But, what does the Bible say on the subject? Is there any instruction for us there? Actually, there is a great deal of wisdom and instruction on this subject which affects so many people, depriving them of joy and peace of mind.

The classic instruction is found in Matthew 6:31–34 in the words of Jesus Christ, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Certainly, we have our part to do, but we should not be overly anxious. If we have our priorities right, we don't have to worry. A wise grandmother put it this way: "There is no sense in making mountains out of mole hills; all it does is exhaust the mole!"

Worry must have been a problem in apostolic times, since Paul gave inspired instruction on the subject in Philippians 4:6–7, "Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus." Paul understood that to worry is to doubt God's ability to help.

David, King of Israel, understood these things when he admonished "Fret not yourself" in Psalm 37 (KJV). There are a number of things you can do if you are prone to worry, not the least of which is to take your cares, worries and anxious thoughts to God in prayer. In doing so, you can have real peace of mind that comes only from Him.

As Jesus Christ said, "Do not worry." You can find help in building a relationship with God and gain the understanding that you need to have transcendent peace. Our free booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny, will guide and inspire you toward this worthwhile goal.

  Originally Published: 29th June 2007