Considering a world without worry is a weird wish. In my line of duty as a priest, I have met someone whom I can describe as an anxiety factory. She is worried about just anything you can possible name under the earth. When it is hot she is worried, when it is cold she is worried, she worries every day about her children some of whom are parents and even grandparents. When the night is too calm, she is worried, when it is noisy more worry comes. She is worried about on-coming celebrations as if nobody would be alive to celebrate them; I often think that she worries more than worry itself.
Worry seems to be an indispensable part of our human reality. We often claim that we are not worried and even tell people not to worry, but the reality is that we often waste under the weight of worry. However, various people have different degrees of worry; some people worry less while others worry more. Whichever way, the reality is that worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it saps today of its energy. Worry is a worthless work!
There is always a reason to worry. It could be because of lack, an obstacle or because of some conflicting realities. The consolatory words of the First Reading today (Isaiah 49:14-15) presents an example of a worrisome situation anchored on a feeling of abandonment. The opening words read: “Zion said, The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”
Historically, the statement addresses those who survived the exilic experience and who were worried about their situation. In the thoughts of the Israelites, God had totally abandoned them. They lacked divine presence, provision, and protection. While they were losing hope, God speaks to them through the prophet Isaiah assuring them of His presence, provision, protection, and compassion. In fact, God uses the imagery of a mother and child to drive home the point:
“Can a woman forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
Often, our worry reflects the instance above. We worry when we feel abandoned, we worry when we feel deprived, and we have reason to worry in such situations. However, the important question we should ask ourselves is this: “how does our worry benefit us?”
In the Gospel Reading today (Matt.6:24-34) Our Lord advises us not to worry about our material comforts: food, drink, housing, clothing, etc. He further asks a crucial question: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matt.6:27).
Many people have met their sudden deaths while swimming in the ocean of worry and the problem remains. Worry blinds us from seeing things from the right perspective. Worry retards us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Worry limits us from our goals, and finally, it separates us from God because we become untrusting, hopeless, and faithless.
Worry is a profound expression of our lack of faith, and it is offensive to God to lack faith (Heb.11:6). When we worry, we tell God how big our problems are instead of doing the opposite (telling our problems how big our God is). When we worry, we focus on fear instead of focusing on faith (Matt. 14:30). When we worry, we plan for failure instead of planning for success. Worry diminishes us. The word of God says that worry weighs a person down (Prov. 12:25).
The reflection of this Sunday is a purposeful engagement with the phenomenon of worry. What practical steps could we take to combat the worry factor in our lives since there is hardly any aspect of life that is bereft of worry? Or how can we reduce our worry quotient?
Seek after heavenly realities (Matt.6:33). In the Gospel reading we understand that the elements of worry are entirely material facts: food, drink, clothing, and others. When we worry about these things (like Martha), we lose the better part (Luke 10:41). Our Lord made it clear that when we should seek after the kingdom of heaven, all other (material) things will become ours. God knows how to take care of His own.
Seek after faith in God (Mark 11:22). Faith not only moves a mountain (Matt. 17:20) it also moves God. Faith gives us unseen certainties and hopeful assurances (Heb. 11:1ff) and thus removes worry and fear from us.
Pray and keep praying (Luke 18:1). Often we turn our prayer time into worry time; that is a colossal waste. St. Paul advises us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything (Phil 4:6).
Avoid negative people and situations. The people you flock with and the situations you put yourself determines a lot about your life. Somewhere I read that “a friend sharpens a friend” (Prov.27:17). If your close friends have high-worry-quotients, be ready to become a worry machine.
Seek the brighter side of every circumstance. Somewhere I read that every cloud has a silver lining and that is true. The word of God says that cry may endure at night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). No matter how bad it is, the storm will be over soon; don’t worry!
Be patient and wait on God to act (Psalm 37:7). Do not worry; God has His own time. God told Abraham, “Nothing is too wonderful for God in due season I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen.18:14). Do not worry, be patient and wait for your due season.
Add humor to your life; it is short: Often when we are too rigid with life. We worry and fret over so many things that we do not have time to recreate. Somewhere I read that God laughs (Psalm 2:4). The Book of Proverbs (17:22) says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
As we march into a new week, may our lives be renewed and removed from the destructive hands of worry. Stop worrying and start Worthing.