There’s an old story about a Georgia farmer, ragged and barefooted, standing on the steps of his tumbledown shack, when a stranger stopped to ask directions. After giving the information, the farmer offered the fellow a cold drink, so he decide to pass the time for a few minutes and ask about his crops
“How is your cotton coming along?” he asked.
Ain’t got none,” replied the farmer.
“Did you plant any?” asked the stranger.
“Nope,” was the reply, “afraid of bollweevils.”
“Well,” continued the stranger, “how is your corn?”
“Didn’t plant none,” came the answer, “’fraid there weren’t going to be no rain.”
The visitor persevered: “Well, how are your potatoes?”
“Ain’t got none. Scairt – of potato bugs.”
“Really, what did you plant?” pressed the stranger.
“Nothin’,” was the calm reply, “I jest played safe.”
The farmer’s fears kept him from acting. His anxiety about unknown factors produced failure instead of bountiful crops.
The Bible often warns God’s people against worry, fear and anxiety. In one of the great verses of the Bible, Paul admonishes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” (Phil. 4:6. ESV)
The word “anxious” means “to be troubled with cares.” Paul is not condemning prudent forethought, or thoughtful planning, but rather needless worry and undue anxiety.
There is an old adage that says, “worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere!” In fact, worry is debilitating. It troubles your mind. Agitates your emotions. Disquiet your spirit. And drains your energy.
In 2006 Dr. Walter Calvert did a study of the things we worry about. He discovered that:
40% of the things we worry about never happen
30% of our worries concern the past
12% are needless worries about our health
10% are insignificant or petty
8% are legitimate issues
So, 92% of our worries are a waste of time and energy! They are about things that either won’t happen, or that we’re unable to change!
In his book, Choose Your Attitudes Change Your Life, Dr. Robert Jeffress, called worry “Satan’s flaming missile.” He wrote, “unfounded worry is a favorite weapon of the Evil One.” Indeed it is!
Worry impedes our relationship with God, weakens our faith, and gives birth to doubt that dampens our hope. Anxiety diminishes our focus and distracts us from spiritual priorities. In fact, brooding can lead us down a dark road of discouragement, depression, and finally despair.
The answer to worry? In a word. Prayer!
Paul said to pray. About what? Everything!
God cares about our troubles. Hears our prayer. And replies to our requests. The Psalmist offers this encouraging advice. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps. 23:13-14).
Paul said to pray, not just a simple petition, but with supplication. That means with urgency. With emotion. With insistence. We can “come boldly to the throne of grace” with our requests, concerns, and pressing problems.
Also an antidote to our worries, is thanksgiving. Counting our blessings. Appreciating how God has provided for us and blessed us in so many ways.
One of my favorite writers, Anonymous, said, “If a matter is not serious enough to pray about, then it is not serious enough to worry about. If it is serious enough to pray about, and if we have prayed about, then there is no need to worry about it. God will take care of it in his own time!”
Don’t worry about the potholes in life’s road. Relax! Enjoy the scenery! And delight in the journey!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman