Why Worry?

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matt. 6:34

There are times when I do the daily reading and have to try as hard as I can to make it relevant to whatever is going on in my life. Say I read something about leprosy, and try as I do, I just cannot make leprosy fit into my thinking. Granted, I can come up with half a dozen other things, but leprosy? Not really.

I do not remember Jesus ever talking about contamination running across the lawn and into the street, like it did with the other four trailers on my side of the street – contributing abundantly to my own problem. Jesus did talk about people not following God’s law, which was to love God and one’s neighbor. It was not easy to love my neighbors, at least then.

Life lately seems to have been a bit like the joke about the beaver: “It’s just one dam thing after another.” I have heard that one at least a hundred times over the last fifty years, and it still makes me giggle. It is still rings true,  as if problems come along in s predictable procession, usually involving something not working, or being turned off sporadically (like water), financial issues, and similar difficulties. Things are fine right now, but I have my fingers crossed and am raising a few prayers for the break to continue.

I had to smile when I ran across this part of the reading for today, “Do not worry….” I must have read that bit of scripture a hundred or more times, but this time it felt as if I was being told not to worry about what comes next; it will come in due time. It is true that today’s problems are enough, without borrowing trouble from tomorrow, next week, or even next year.

Jesus was undoubtedly familiar with worried people. The Samaritan woman at the well was probably as concerned as she could be that Jesus would reject her because of her ethnicity, her irregular marital status, and the fact that she was a single woman out without a male escort. She had plenty to worry about. Her neighbors probably reminded her of her outcast status daily, and a Jewish man was at the well closest to her home. Jesus surprised her. He spoke of her life and lifestyle without condemnation. He told her not to worry and gave her a message for her neighbors. He set her up as his first evangelist, giving her a message of hope for herself and others with worries, anxieties, and concerns.

I often pray the Serenity Prayer in troublesome times: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Over the years that I have been repeating that prayer, it has helped me not to worry nearly as much as I used to, and I certainly do not deliberately worry about what might happen somewhere or when. Life has been much more tranquil since I made that prayer a mantra, but now and again, life still throws a curve ball to remind me that life is not all beer and Skittles, or that it is even a series of metaphors to be tossed around.

So, I thank God today for the reminder that worry is useless because it does not change anything. What will happen will happen, whether or not I fret about it. I should remember the part from Psalm 55, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (v. 22a). Whether I place it in a more modern version of English or the King James Version, I learned as a child, it is a reminder to let God take care of it. I do not know if Bobby McFerrin had God in mind, but he seemed to be channeling a message from God when he wrote the song that made him famous, “Don’t worry, be happy.” 

Sounds like good advice to me. There. I feel better already. 

Image: Christus und die Samariterin am Brunnen, (1796), by Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807). Located at the Bavarian State Painting Collections.  Found on Wikimedia Commons. 

Linda Ryan is an Education for Ministry mentor, an avid reader, a Baroque and Renaissance music lover, and a fumbling knitter. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter and lives near Phoenix, Arizona.

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