When I was small I was a big fan of Mad Magazine, a magazine aimed at entertaining goofy boys like myself with all manner of parodies and satirical wit.
The magazine’s mascot was a fictional guy named Alfred E. Neuman, whose visage frequently graced the cover along with his famously incurious question, “What, me worry?”
Even today that question pops frequently into my head: “What, me worry?”
Truth is, I do worry. Unfortunately, I worry a lot. In fact, most people find themselves worrying about something nearly every day. Maybe you heard about the guy who said, “Don’t tell me worry doesn’t do any good, I know better. The things I worry about never happen!”
Worry affects our physical appearance and our physical health. Worry wakes us in the middle of the night and lines our faces with the unmistakable evidence of an anxious heart.
Little boys and girls worry about thunderstorms or tornadoes or things that go bump in the night. Young people worry about school, passing an exam or about some boy or girl; whether they are liked. Adults often worry about finances, job security or marriage and senior adults may worry about health, loneliness or even death.
Have you seen the church sign about worry? It reads: “Don’t allow your worries to kill you. Let the church help!” I think that church meant well, but the sign makes one wonder exactly what sort of “help” was being offered!
Jesus certainly understood our tendency to worry. In Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-34, the word “worry” occurs no less than six times. Three of those times the word occurs in the phrase: “Do not worry.” Surely Jesus would not have said, “Do not worry” so much if He did not think worry was a common problem among His followers.
Jesus teaches that Christians should not worry about the things they need (verse 25) nor should they worry about their future (verse 34). What is more, the cure for worry is one simple word: faith. In the same passage Jesus says to his anxious disciples, “O you of little faith.”
Here is the Christian’s antidote to worry: a robust faith or trust in the God who created and sustains His people.
Among other things, faith means believing that God is good and always does what is right. It means that God is in control of all circumstances and is working through every event to accomplish His perfect will. To be sure, God’s ways are often mysterious and beyond our ability to fully comprehend (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33), but this is why faith is necessary.
As the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Indeed, this is why some define worry as “practical atheism.” Ultimately every Christian is faced with a question: Do we really trust God or do we just say we trust God? May God help each of us to fully trust in Him.
The Rev. Todd Linn is pastor of First Baptist Church in Henderson, Ky.