Yesterday, I put together for you some quotes from well-known people on Anxiety, hoping that you would be encouraged, and less anxious. But I neglected to put the famous quote of Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?” You might recall that he was the fictional character from the satirical Mad Magazine, pictured here. His was a face that didn’t have a care in the world. As a young boy, his motto sparked a feeling of real freedom for me that carries over to this day. “What, me worry?”
As our world is confronted by the harsh realities of a global pandemic, I would like to meet Alfred E. Neuman and ask him if “What, me worry?” is still his motto after all these years. Surely, he must have been anxious in his life at some time. Surely, he would with our troubles today, wouldn’t he?
The word “worry” is an Old English word which literally means “to choke” or “to strangle.” When you’re worrying, it chokes the life out of you. The Greek word for worry is the word that means “to divide.” The Book of James talks about a double-minded person is unstable in all of his/her ways, (James 1:8, NLT). Focusing on worry causes instability. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, deals with the worry issue by saying in Matthew 6:25, NLT, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.”
Worry is emotional baggage that hinders your progress toward spiritual maturity. Proverbs 12:25, NLT says, “Worry weighs a person down.” Worry makes you feel heavy, pressed down, depressed. Because worry weighs a person down, God says, don’t run the race of life all loaded down with burdens and cares, fears and anxieties. He wants you to release those things. What does God want you to do? “Give your worries to the Lord and He will take care of you,” (Psalm 55:22).
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
In essence God says, “Let it go. Give it to Me. I’ll take care of it.” You may say how do I do that? How do I let go of my worries?
I like to say that there are two alternative choices you have when you come across problems in your life: you can worry and be anxious about them or you can pray about them. My experience tells me you’re going to tend to do one or the other through life. The more you worry, the less you’re going to pray. The more you pray, the less you’re going to worry. So, why pray when you can worry? Because you’ll enjoy the journey much more, and so will those with whom you live!
Prayer is THE way you release your worries. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote from prison when he could have been worrying about a lot of things, including his survival: “Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians. 4:6, NLT). For a great read, go to Paul’s letter to the Philippians and discover that though it was written from prison, it is a letter that is overflowing with joy! The word “joy” is expressed in all its various forms. See if you can find all sixteen times Paul uses it in this one letter to the church.
Please understand, in these troubling times, when people are dying at an alarming rate, many more are getting frighteningly ill, movie theaters, restaurants, stores, schools, and all kinds of businesses are closed and are laying off workers, we are still called to be follow the common sense guidelines that are laid out for us to protect our health and the health of others: wash your hands religiously, keep your distance of six feet, sneeze and cough into your inside elbow, wash your hands after you blow your nose, and stay at home as much as you can. And do this without worry by consciously relating yourself to God, who holds us all securely in his hands. Worry is the first thing you’re going to have to let go of if you’re going to experience the peace that God wants you to give you. Prayer is a more positive alternative to the troubles that face us. May joy grow in you and through you.