First, St. Paul has some words of exhortation, originally shared with his friends in Philippi but just as relevant a couple thousand years later to me, one of the great worriers of the 21st (or any other) century. If there was an anxiety Olympics, I’d be a medalist:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus said as much in chapter 6 (verses 25-34) of Matthew’s gospel:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Others more recently have understood the same idea:
There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever. – Ghandi
How is it that Ghandi has a greater handle on living the Christian life than we professed “true believers”?
Mark Twain was another guy who had a lot of spiritual insight, in spite of the fact that he was an avowed atheist:
The weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has not been tested in the fire. (The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg)
While we’re listening to authors and questioning our touted virtue, how about this character from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin? This young fellow finally speaks what the rest of us are afraid to say:
“Don’t the Bible say we must love everybody?”
“O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but, then, nobody ever thinks of doing them, – you know, Eva, nobody does.”
More than 16o years later, little has changed, has it?
St. James says much the same thing in his letter:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Wouldn’t that be a weird way to live?