When our children were young they loved the Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves. One story in particular stands out in my mind, and that is the tale of ‘Mr. Worry’. ‘Mr. Worry’ worried about everything. If it rained, he worried that his roof would leak, if there wasn’t any rain, he worried that all of his plants would die and when he was happy for a week he worried about not having anything to worry about!
Worry is a major health problem in the world today. The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2030, depression and anxiety – a medical and clinical form of worry - will be the leading global burden of disease. It wasn’t meant to be this way. Our modern way of living is exacting a heavy price. A quick search of the internet reveals a host of different programs and advice blogs about how we might handle anxiety and worry. Several were giving me the same advice; that I should set apart a specific place and time of the day in which I could focus all my worrying and this would then allow the rest of my day to be worry free. Not quite the advice I was looking for as this would just be containing my worry rather than alleviating it.
The truth is that most of us will at some point in our lives find something to worry about. What matters, is what we choose to do with it. God’s original plan for our lives did not include this and we do not have to put up with it. Jesus died for our freedom and I believe that includes all things which have the potential to steal our joy and restrict and limit us enjoying our lives in the fullness that God intended us to.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read that God made us in his image and blessed us to live fruitful lives; lives full of hope and promise and peace, and God describes this situation as being ‘very good’. Yet despite this, the story unfolds with man wanting more than he has been given, sin entering the world and the life that God intended for us all taking a different path.
Worry leads us to seeing the world in a distorted manner. When we worry, we see problems everywhere we turn while Jesus encourages us to see God everywhere we turn. Jesus tells us that it’s not wrong to see problems; we just need to put them in their rightful place. The wonderful, amazing truth is that God is greater than any problem we face. Those who do not know God or have not learnt to put their trust in him yet, approach life in a different way and it’s a way that Jesus says can be bettered. God loves us, cares for us, knows what we need and knows what is best for us because He made us and we are precious to Him.
Jesus encourages us to place our attention fully on God in order that the things which are occupying our thoughts in a negative way, may be transformed, but it starts with a decision; a decision to seek after Him. Our lives will have challenges within them and we may have some looming over us right now that require an answer and we simply haven’t got one to hand. To this Jesus calls us to change the direction in which we’re looking. The Bible says that we should, ‘cast our burdens onto God because He cares for us’. Psalm 55. When we look to God first, our problems and concerns fall into perspective. Worry will always see a problem, where faith sees God who can always handle the problem.
The call is for us to give our attention to God and to what He is doing right now and to not get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Then we might be able to say; “I may not know what I’m going to do, but I know a God who does”.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that to you I am precious and that you have my very best needs at heart. Help me to turn my attention to you and to trust in you that my life may be filled with the peace and joy you intended it to be.
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale